Botanists of the Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) have discovered a new subspecies of Hoya, an air plant that is usually found growing on trunks and branches of forest trees. Hoyas are prized for their waxy clusters of star-shaped flowers.

The new discovery is a subspecies of Hoya meliflua Merr. now listed in the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) in 2016 as Hoya meliflua Merr. subsp. escobinae Kloppenb. Conda, Buot & Pitargue. The foresters who discovered the new subspecies include Jennifer M. Conda, Fernando C. Pitargue Jr., and Dr. Ramiro S. Escobin.

The team got cuttings of the subspecies from the Quezon Protected Landscape in 2012. Samples of the first flowers were sent to Dr. Dale Kloppenburg, a renowned Hoya expert from the United States who confirmed that it was a new subspecies. The flowers showed several similarities with Hoya meliflua Blanco Ex Merr. but with some notable differences.

Forester Jennifer Conda said that the calyx lobes (sepals) of the 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) 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.

A number of Filipino collectors are exporting plants and cuttings of various Hoya varieties. These are convenient to export because they are hardy, soilless, hence light, and convenient to ship by air.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s February 2019 issue.