New additions to endemic plants list of Seychelles |17 March 2014
Seychelles has now two new endemic plants found only on Mahé and nowhere else in the world.
They are the Angiopteris Chonsengiana, a newly found plant and the Ptisana Laboudalloniana a plant originally thought to be Ptisana Fraxinea found in other countries like Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and the Comores.
The plants, both known locally as ‘Baton Monsenyer’ or Potatoe fern, fall in the marattiaceae plants family. They are found in high altitude areas like Congo Rouge, Sans Souci and some other places only on Mahé. They were discovered by Bruno Senterre, a Belgian botanist working in the herbarium section of the National History Museum.
In a small ceremony held recently at the Natural History Museum, two long time Seychellois botanists who had contributed significantly to the botany, natural history and nature conservation in Seychelles were honoured by having the endemic plants named after them. Victorin Laboudallon was honoured with the Ptisana Laboudalloniana plant and Lindsey Chong-Seng with the Angiopteris Chonsengiana plant.
Although the plants were discovered by him, Mr Senterre decided not to name the plants after him but rather, in consultation with his colleagues in the herbarium section and others in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, chose the two long time botanists in recognition of their contribution to Seychelles’ environment.
Explaining the origin of the discovery, Charles Morel of the herbarium section said that the newly discovered Angiopteris Chongsengiana known as ‘Baton monsenyer-d-gran bwa’ had been seen by many while doing trails or scientific work but it was not noticed then as a sole endemic specie of its own and to be found nowhere else. It was there waiting to be discovered until July 2011 by Mr Senterre. The Ptisana Laboudalloniana locally known as ‘Pti baton monsenyer’ was a plant thought to be Ptisana Fraxinea found in other countries as well but in 2008 with the expert eyes of Mr Senterre, the plant was found to be not the same as those of the other countries. After further analysis more information on both plants were gathered and sent to the Natural History Museum in Paris (France) and The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew in the United Kingdom for further analysis in 2012. It was in January 2014 this year that the herbarium section of the National History Museum here received a joint statement from both organisations confirming both plants as really endemic to Seychelles.
Both Mr Laboudallon and Mr Chong-Seng said they were very proud to have been chosen to have the plants named after them.
They said they were a bit surprised as they were both told they were to only attend a meeting.
Mr Laboudallon was presented with his honour by Cecile Kalebi, the director of the Natural History Museum while Mr Chong-Seng received his from Mr Senterre.
Text and photos by P. Joubert