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Amazon tree with giant leaves identified as a species years later

Image Credit: Rogério Gribel

The identity of the tree, found at the Amazon National Research Centre(INPA) in Manaus, Brazil, has remained a mystery for more than 35 years.

Researchers have named this huge tree Coccoloba gigantifolia, a species found in Brazilian forests.

C. gigantifolia has been known as a species for a long time but no official explanation has been made by researchers until 2018. The first tree of the Coccoloba species was discovered in 1982 by INPA botanists while exploring the Madeia River Basin in the Amazon. At that time, it was quite difficult to move to the center because the leaves of the tree were almost human-sized. In 1993, researchers managed to collect two large leaves and brought them to the center. According to Rogério Gribel, a researcher at the INPA, the reason it was not identified for a long time was the lack of reproductive materials. About 10 years later, in 2005, they planted seeds and dying flowers they had collected from a tree in the Jamari National Forest on the INPA campus. After 13 years, the tree finally flourished and bore fruit. In the paper published in Acta Amazonica, Gribel and colleagues dedicated the species to its large leaves. they identified it as gigantifolia. This tree can grow to about 15 meters in height, and its leaves can reach 2.5 meters in length. Unlike single-jawed plants, the seeds of these plants can be divided into two identical parts and have a leafy veined structure.

Image Credit: Silvestre Silva

He also notes that the recent rate of deforestation has increased on the sides of the Madeira River, and the tree species found there are endangered. Industrialization and hydroelectric dams in this region negatively affect plant species. For this reason, researchers recommend that these species be redlisted by the IUCN(International Union for Conservation of nature). If they are not listed, we may never see these species in a few years.

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