Kimberly's focal taxon

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Contents

Zingiberaceae

Introduction

The Zingiberaceae is a large plant family more commonly known as the gingers. They are perennial herbs with rhizomes that can grow either long or short. The rhizomes are usually turned upwards and they grow into either a leafy shoot or an inflorescence. The rhizomes can grow as a sympodium (a series of interconnected rhizomes that arise from the buds near the apex) or as individual stalks. Large clumps of a single ginger plant can be formed by this rhizomatic growth. Gingers have both true roots and rhizomes, but both types of 'root' cells have compounds that give rise to the unique, spicy, aromatic smell well associated with gingers. In the tropics, such as Borneo, some gingers can grow almost continuously because of the constant light and rain characteristic of the area, while others may have slight increase in growth during the rainy season. Some gingers even have a dormant period in which the rhizome may lose all of its leaves and slow or halt growth for a time.

Despite the fact that gingers are commercially important in many forms including as spices, dyes, flavoring, oils and additives to other common products, three species are most utilized and well-know. The two gingers most utilized in cooking are the rhizomes of the common ginger, Zingiber officinale, and Curcuma domestica (tumeric). The third species is Elettaria cardamomum (cardamon), in which the dried seed is used for teas, scents, or flavoring. Beyond these basic uses, the gingers are a fascinating plant with much variety in stem growth, hairiness, flowers, size, leaf coloration, and inflorescence organization. A real stem is often present, but the large visible stem is actually the pseudo-stem, which is formed by the leaf sheaths. A stalk-like protrusion sometimes arises from the stem where the leaf bud forms and, despite the fact that it has been called a 'petiole', it is not actually parallel in structure to the true petioles of other plants. The inflorescence can grow from the ground (called radical), the mid-stem (which is especially striking in Plagiostachys), or at the apex of leafy shoot (called terminal). Most flowers in the inflorescence have both bracts and smaller, more inner coverings called bracteoles. The whole inflorescence also has a more traditional bract. The flowers are highly specialized and bisexual. They have an inferior ovary, with a corolla that has a narrow tube with three sub-equal corolla lobes. The upper lobe is usually shaped like orchid lip, but botanically it is two or three modified sterile stamens (not a true petal like in orchids). The fruits are dry or fleshy capsules and can dehisce by way of three slits. The fruits may also be indehiscent. The seeds are dark brown to black with a colored aril coating or fleshy jacket covering and most are strongly aromatic. [1]

For this Focal Taxon study, 12 individual gingers were looked at in detail throughout the multiple locations of the course, with characteristics relating to reproductive organ coloration, stem and leaf appearance, size, vein organization, inflorescence structure and petiole-like structures recorded. Data was then used to create a phylogentic tree depicting the possible relationships between these individuals. Whenever possible, the individuals were identified to genus and/or species. When unknown, a morphotype is given instead.

Genus: Alpinia

Two gingers were tentatively identified in the Alpinia genus.

Alpinia One Alpinia havilandii (Indiv22)

Inflorescence Location: Mid-stem

Leaf Coloration: Mid Green

Location:

  • Base of the trail to Mt. Kinabalu (Laban Rata)

Time of day: ca. 9:15

Date: 22 June 2010

Description: Was found just at the edge of its altitudinal limit, a lucky find so high up (~1,900m). The inflorescence was large with white flowers, it had fine hairs all over except on the top of the leaves and it was growing in a cluster or stalks, with a rough herbaceous stem.

Alpinia Two Alpinia species unknown (Indiv25)

Inflorescence Location: Unknown

Leaf Coloration: Dark Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, on the edge of the trail beneath the Sky Bridge.

Date: 28 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 11:30

Description: Found in the primary forest of the Maliau Basin, more than 10m away from a river, but still in a relatively cool and moist area. The microhabitat was on the side of the trail, underneath some large trees. It was not particularly large, rather a small clump of stems. Some hair on stem, not flowering, visible veins with a smooth stem appearance.


Genus: Costus

One ginger was tentatively identified in the Costus genus.

Costus One Costus speciosa (Indiv19)


Inflorescence Location: stem apex

Leaf Coloration: Dark Green

Location:

  • Lambir Hills, along the road back from the 52-hectare plot

Date: 11 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 15:00

Description: Found in a very sunny location, in the disturbed secondary forest. It had hairs on the stem and leaves. The inflorescence had many ants swarming over the flowers. It had a smooth herbaceous stem, and there was a small water source along the ditch of the side of the road. It had a dark red inflorescence with mostly white flowers.

Genus: Etlingera

Two gingers were tentatively identified in the Etlingera genus.

Etlingera One Etlingera muluensis (Indiv21)

Inflorescence Location: Ground

Leaf Coloration: Light Green

Location:

  • The head quarters of the Mt. Kinabalu trail.

Date: 21 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 17:30

Description: Not too abundant at this altitude, but found on the side of the trail at the site of the Mt. Kinabalu head quarters growing near a little stream bed. It had bright, large green leaves with visible veination and a smooth stem. Inflorescence was close to the ground with vibrant outter orange-red coloration. The internal petals were white, strong, spicy, almost lemongrass smell when cut open.

Etlingera Two Eltingera species unknown (Indiv24)

Inflorescence Location: Ground

Leaf Coloration: Light Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, at the base of the Suspension Bridge

Date: 28 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 11:00

Description: Was interesting because it had what looked like a single large flower on the ground stalk of a lovely white color. The whole cluster was about 2m tall, the inflorescence ~40cm from the ground. The outer floral color was white. No hairs were present but there was a short petiole-like leaf base and light green leaves with a strong midrub. There was no clearly visible veins, and flies were all over the area.


Genus: Plagiostachys

One ginger was tentatively identified in the Plagiostachys genus.

Plagiostachys One Plagiostachys albiflora (Indiv26)

Inflorescence Location: Ground

Leaf Coloration: Dark Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, up the trail beyond the Suspension Bridge

Date: 28 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 11:15

Description: Found in the primary forest of the Maliau Basin, more than 10m away from the river. Based on the fruit placement, can infer that the flowers are at the base. The fruit was about 5cm from ground, and small and green with dark seeds. Some hair was on the stem and under the leaves of medium green. Leaves had a midrub with visible veins and no petiole-like structure.

Genus: Unknown

Five gingers are of unknown genera.

Unknown One Taxon_Ginger1 (Indiv3)

Inflorescence Location: Unknown

Leaf Coloration: Dark Green

Location:

  • Lambir Hills, at the Crane Gap up the trail.

Date: 7 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 10:00

Description: Found in the crane gap area of one of the Lambir Hills trails while sampling for insects. It was quite sunny, in disturbed area where people are often walking. It had a very pronounce alternate leaves with a strong mid-vein. The sheath-like stem was smooth with dark leaf color and a uniform edge. No hairs were on the stem, and it had a non-swollen leaf junction.


Unknown Two Taxon_Ginger10 (Indiv35)

Inflorescence Location: Unknown

Leaf Coloration: Mid Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, at the Study Centre below the hostel planks

Date: 1 July 2010

Time of day: ca. 15:00

Description: It was growing in a big cluster growing all together almost like a grass bush. The leaves had very ragged edges with no petiole-like structure. There were clearly visible veins. There was no river within 10m, and it was in a very sunny totally disturbed human habitat with grass around it. The flowers grew directly from midstem and at base of the petals there was a small swollen green dot. The petals appeared cream-yellow and the stalk of the inflorescence was red, but the outer floral color was more yellowish-green.

Unknown Three Taxon_Ginger11 (Indiv37)

Inflorescence Location: Ground

Leaf Coloration: Dark Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, at obstacle course found on the trail leading into the basin before the Suspension Bridge

Date: 2 July 2010

Time of day: ca. 7:00

Description: Found in the primary forest on the Maliau Basin Trail, it had a short petiole-like structure that was a bit swollen and wavy leaf edges. The leaves were of a dark green color with barely visible veins. The emerging inflorescence appeared white or cream and it was sprouting from the ground on a roughly 35m stalk. The stem was smooth with no hairs seen or no constant organisms living on flower. It had a long cone inflorescence and was growing with no river within 10m in dryish soil at the time.


Unknown Four Taxon_Ginger2 (Indiv7)

Inflorescence Location: Unknown

Leaf Coloration: Mid Green

Location:

  • Lambir Hills, at the 52-Hectare plot

Date: 10 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 15:00

Description: Found in the primary forest of the 52-hectare plot in the understory of dipterocarp trees. The leaves were mid green with lots of parallel veins barely visible. There was no river within 10m and the soil seemed a bit dry. There was no petiole-like structure present, the stem was smooth and the leaves had a wavy edge.


Unknown Five Taxon Ginger3 (Indiv8)

Inflorescence Location: Unknown

Leaf Coloration: Light Green

Location:

  • Lambir Hills, at the 52-Hectare plot

Date: 10 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 15:00

Description: Found in the primary forest of the 52-hectare plot, also in the understory of the dipterocarp forest. The leaves were slightly browned at the edges and a light greenish color with a uniform leaf edge. It was not flowering, and there was no hair present, but a slight petiole-like structure could be seen and the veins were visible in the leaves.


Genus: Zingiber

One ginger was tentatively identified in the Zingiber genus.

Zingiber One Zingiber species unknown (Indiv27)

Inflorescence Location: Ground

Leaf Coloration: Mid Green

Location:

  • Maliau Basin, directly below the entrance to the Canopy Walk

Date: 28 June 2010

Time of day: ca. 11:45

Description: Found in the disturbed part of the forest of Maliau Basin, just near the river. The flowers were at the base, about 12cm from the ground. The plant was growing in a cluster of many stems, and the outer floral color was a greenish-reddish, with the emerging flowers appearing white from the elongated pine cone-like inflorescence. There were no hairs present but there was a very short petiole-like leaf base. The leaves were a medium green with a strong midrub and not very visible veins. The stem was smooth and herbaceous.



Data

The gingers identified were analyzed for specific characteristics that were than used to make the phylogenetic tree. Here is the data matrix, shown in the program Mesquite:

The data matrix was then exported and utilized by the program PHYLIP to create an unrooted consensus tree using maximum parsimony (from the creation of 99 most parsimonious trees) seen below:


File:Consen_better.png

Discussion

As noted above, the consensus tree created is unrooted, thus it is not possible to make inferences about the placement of the root. But looking at the nodes further up the tree, it is possible to speculate on relationships between specific individuals. The tree was also imported back into Mesquite in order to trace character traits. The strongest relationship seen is between Alpinia havilandii (Indiv22) and Taxon_Ginger10 (Indiv35). The nodal support value is 1.00, meaning this relationship occurred in all trees created. This is rather interesting because an individual in an unknown genus seems more closely related to the Alpinia havilandii than the other individual in the Alpinia genus (Indiv25). This could be because there are more floral characteristics available for Taxon_Ginger10 (Indiv35) than for the other Alpinia species (Indiv25). These floral characteristics may make Indiv35 appear more related to Alpinia havilandii. As seen below, when the characters were traced in Mesquite, it appears that inflorescence placement was a connecting factor between these two individuals.

Another strong relationship is seen between Costus speciosa (Indiv19) and Plagiostachys albiflora (Indiv26) with a nodal support value of 0.80. In this case, the partitioning occurred in 80% of the created trees. This is unexpected given the fact that the inflorescences occur in two separate places on these plants, but perhaps the other characters are more similar between the two individuals and overcome this seemingly large difference. Characters are also unweighted in this tree, thus all characters are treated as equally important. Tracing characters in Mesquite revealed many similar character traits between these individuals, such as hair presence.

The final branch partition with a decent amount of nodal support (0.70) is the branch which splits individuals 35 and 22 from individuals 27, 24, 7, 37, 19, and 26. This is a wide split encompassing many different individuals, so it is difficult to pinpoint possible characteristics related to such a division. However, one factor that may have contributed to the support of the node close is leaf edge appearance.

Beyond these few inferences, it is not possible to come to any broader conclusions based on this specific tree. The individual gingers discovered are from multiple genera and display quite diverse characteristics that have lead to many instances of low nodal support values in the final consensus tree. The tree has, however, suggested an interesting relationship for one of the unknown individuals (Indiv35), thus it has provided perhaps a slight inclination as to which genera this one individual may belong (Alpinia?).

References

  1. Larsen, K. Ibrahim, H. Khaw, S.H. and Saw, L.G. Gingers of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore Malaysia: Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. 1999.

My Focal taxa

Individual Determined by Date Taxon Genus Species Morphotype
Indiv19 Kimberly 18 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger4
Indiv19 Kimberly 2 July 2010 Costus speciosa Costus speciosa
Indiv21 Kimberly 25 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger5
Indiv21 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Etlingera muluensis Etlingera muluensis
Indiv22 Kimberly 25 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger6
Indiv22 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Alpinia havilandii Alpinia havilandii
Indiv24 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Etlingera Etlingera
Indiv24 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger7
Indiv25 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Alpinia Alpinia Taxon_Ginger8
Indiv26 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Plagiostachys albiflora Plagiostachys albiflora
Indiv27 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Zingiber Zingiber
Indiv27 Kimberly 29 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger9
Indiv3 Kimberly 8 June 2010 Taxon_Ginger1
Indiv35 Kimberly 1 July 2010 Taxon_Ginger10
Indiv37 Kimberly 2 July 2010 Taxon_Ginger11
Indiv7 Kimberly 10 June 2010 Taxon Ginger2
Indiv8 Kimberly 10 June 2010 Taxon Ginger3