Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abutilon sachetianum

Abutilon sachetianum
Abutilon sachetianum is a shrub or small tree up to 8m tall. It is only found in the Marquesas (French Polynesia) and is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species is found in small populations on the islands of Eiao, Hatutaa, Hiva Oa, Mohotani and Nuku Hiva, however subpopulations on Eiao and Hatutaa are in a notably critical state.

The flowers are described by collectors as “pendent” and vary in color from orange to yellow. The large oval leaves are typically 9-15cm across and 10-17cm long.

Historical Reference: The Abutilon sachetianum Group
Three hitherto undescribed species of Abutilon in southeastern Polynesia and one in Samoa seem to form a closely related group, very distinct from anything else known from the Pacific. One of them, here christened Abutilon sachetianum, is represented by excellent material and is very fully described. It is very rare but still exists on at least two of the Marquesas Islands, Hivaoa and Mohotani. Two of the others were collected on the Mangarevan Expedition in 1934, and were even then almost extinct. They are very likely extinct now, but I am describing them, even from inadequate material, with the hope that their publication may stimulate efforts to relocate them, and to bring about their protection, as well as to place on record our knowledge of them. The Samoan species, A. whistleri, was found by Christophersen in 1931 but lay undescribed until Art Whistler recently discovered its flowers.

It is not possible to characterize the group adequately since two of the species are too poorly known. Calyces in the group are similar, large, hemispherical or broadly campanulate with ovate or triangular lobes, and with pedicels jointed near the summit. Abutilon sachetianum and A. mangarevicum have subulate processes or spines on the fruit. The fruit of A. whistleri is muticous and densely hirsute. The fruit of A. pitcairnense is unknown. Their general similarity in appearance, with their flowers on axillary racemes or branchlets, as well as their geographical occurrence, seem close enough to justify tentatively associating them.

   Polynesian Plant Studies 6- 18
   F. Raymond Fosberg, 1981
   9. Abutilon in Southeastern Polynesia and Samoa