New Species of Oak Discovered in Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand

Posted on February 13, 2014

Leaves of Lithocarpus orbicarpus

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of Stone Oak in the Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand. The wildlife sanctuary covers a region of low-lying forested mountains. The oak was discovered by international team of scientists from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (China) and the Forest Herbarium (BKF - Thailand).

The new species, Lithocarpus orbicarpus is described by the research team as "a medium to small tree with simple leaves." The oak has spherical acorns covered in a dense pattern of scales. A branch of the new species is pictured above and the acorn is pictured below.

Acorn from Lithocarpus orbicarpus

Dr. Strijk, one of the authors of the study, says in a statement, "This species is only known from Thailand, and has not been recorded outside Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary. During our field survey, we found only one individual tree, located on a gentle sloping section of closed dense forest. We know next to nothing about this species' biology, it's evolution or it's position within the Oak family. Follow-up molecular work will provide us with more information, but additional survey work will have to be undertaken to determine the actual population size within the sanctuary. So far, it seems that the species is not only endemic but also very rare within the confined area where it appears."

A research paper on the new species was published here in the journal PhytoKeys.

Photos: S. Sirimongkol and J. S. Strijk