Known for its ball-like cluster of waxy flowers, the Hoya plant is a favorite among many flower enthusiasts especially in Asia. And although there is already a great variety of officially recognized Hoya plants, a new subspecies was recently discovered by botanists from the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).
Hoya meliflua Merr. subsp. escobinae Kloppenb. Conda, Buot & Pitargue was added to the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) in 2016. It was discovered by DOST-FPRDI’s For. Jennifer M. Conda, Mr. Fernando C. Pitargue Jr., and Dr. Ramiro S. Escobin.
Conda explained the process of discovery: “Our team collected cuttings of the plant from the Quezon Protected Landscape in 2012. Immediately after the first flowers bloomed, we sent samples for examination to Dr. Dale Kloppenburg, a renowned Hoya expert from the United States. He then confirmed that it was a new subspecies, which showed several similarities with Hoya meliflua Blanco ex Merr. but with some notable differences. Results were published in Hoya New, a publication devoted to studies about Hoya, and listed in the IPNI.”
According to her, the calyx lobes (sepals) of the new subspecies are tongue-like and long, as compared to the broadly oval to oblong of the Hoya meliflua Blanco ex Merr. Its corolla lobes (petals), meanwhile, are elongated and have serrated edge, in contrast to the latter’s broadly triangular lobes.
“Of the 109 Hoya species recorded in the country, 39 species and 3 subspecies are found in Quezon province. It is no wonder that another subspecies was uncovered in the same area,” explained Conda.
Also called wax plant, wax vine, wax flower or shooting star, Hoya is an Asian native plant that usually creeps or climbs. It has thick, waxy leaves and a cluster of flowers that holds up to 40 individual flowers firmly packed together.