Calamus bulubabi W.J.Baker & J.Dransf.

Baker, William J. & Dransfield, John, 2014, New rattans from New Guinea (Calamus, Arecaceae), Phytotaxa 163 (4), pp. 181-215: 186-189

publication ID 10.11646/phytotaxa.163.4.1

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scientific name

Calamus bulubabi W.J.Baker & J.Dransf.


3. Calamus bulubabi W.J.Baker & J.Dransf.   , sp. nov. Type:— PAPUA NEW GUINEA. Western Province: North Fly District, Tabubil-Kiunga road, 18 km SSE of Tabubil, 300 m, 5°25'7"S, 141°17'31"E, 11 December 2000, Baker et al. 1128 (holotype K!, isotypes AAU, LAE, NY) GoogleMaps   .

Diagnosis:— Distinguished by the broadly elliptic leaflets grouped in divaricate pairs, the leaf sheaths that are densely covered in fine, flexible, hair-like spines and the dense, matted, white indumentum that is often present between the spines and on other parts.

Slender to moderately robust, clustering rattan climbing to 30 m. Stem with sheaths 11–25 mm diam., without sheaths to 9–14 mm diam.; internodes 10–36 cm. Leaf ecirrate, to 78–130 cm long including petiole; sheath dark green, sometimes with thick, white, caducous, woolly indumentum of matted, fine, white and buff hairs, woolly indumentum lacking in other material, dark punctuate scales also present, densely armed with fine, flexible, brown to black, hair-like spines to 25 mm long, sometimes with indumentum as sheath; knee 26–48 mm long, 15–20 mm wide, colour and armature as sheath; ocrea not well-developed, consisting of a low crest to 5 mm high extending along adaxial surface of petiole base; flagellum present, to 2.5 m long; petiole 1–22 cm, 6–11 mm wide and 4–5 mm thick at base, shallowly channelled adaxially, rounded abaxially, indumentum as sheath, sparsely to densely armed with fine spines to 5 mm long; rachis arching, armed with reflexed grapnel spines; leaflets 10–16 each side of rachis, mainly arranged in divaricate pairs (sometimes in threes, sometimes with solitary leaflets interspersed), elliptic, cucullate, longest leaflets at base or mid-leaf position, mid-leaf leaflets 14–33 × 3.5–4.2 cm, apical leaflets 12–15 × 1–3 cm, apical leaflet pair united from half to two thirds of their length, leaflets unarmed, except for very few marginal bristles at apex and very occasional bristles on major veins of adaxial surface, leaflets sometimes glabrous, or (in forms with woolly indumentum) bearing scattered woolly indumentum and sometimes a band of woolly indumentum along adaxial surface of one leaflet margin, transverse veinlets inconspicuous, leaflets producing numerous fine fibres when cut. Staminate inflorescence arcuate, 1.5–2.2 m long including 15–33 cm peduncle, lacking a flagelliform tip, branched to 3 orders (sometimes 4 orders at base); prophyll 22–28 × 1.4–2.6 cm, somewhat inflated, opening asymmetrically at apex, sometimes splitting more deeply to produce distal limb, indumentum as sheath, sparsely armed with fine spines as sheath, always subtending a primary branch; peduncular bracts absent, rachis bracts 5.5–26 × 0.3–2 cm, similar to prophyll, but usually entirely unarmed; primary branches 6–13, to 30 cm long, 8–25 cm apart, diffusely branched and sometimes recurving, with up to ca. 80 rachillae, bracts on primary branch funnel-shaped; rachillae 30–50 mm × ca. 1 mm, straight to sinuous; rachilla bracts ca. 1 × 1.2 mm, distichous, inconspicuous; floral bracteole ca. 1.5 × 1.3 mm, cup-shaped. Staminate flowers 3–4.2 × 2.2–2.6 mm in bud prior to anthesis; calyx 2.2–2.6 mm diam., tubular in basal 1.6–1.8 mm, with 3 lobes 1.6–2 × ca. 0.6 mm; corolla 3.8 × 4 mm in bud, tubular in basal 1.4–1.6 mm; stamens 6, filaments 1.6–2 × 0.2–0.4 mm, anthers ca. 2 × 0.6–0.7 mm; pistillode ca. 0.6 × 0.2 mm, trifid. Pistillate inflorescence similar to staminate inflorescence, 0.6 to at least 1.6 m long including 18–25 cm peduncle, flagelliform tip absent, branched to 2 orders (sometimes 3 orders at base); prophyll 14–26 × 0.7–1.5 cm, similar to staminate inflorescence, subtending primary branch; peduncular bracts absent, rachis bracts similar to staminate inflorescence (the inflorescence of Dijkstra BW 6628 differs from other material in being somewhat more slender and flagellum-like inflorescence, and bearing narrower primary bracts with grapnel spines around the base, one peduncular bract and more robust rachillae; in other respects it is similar to all other material of the species); primary branches ca. 8, to 20 cm long, 6–16 cm apart, erect or recurving, with up to 17 rachillae, bracts funnel-shaped; rachillae 25–90 mm × 1.3–2 mm, more or less straight and stiff; rachilla bracts 1–2.5 × 2–2.5 mm, distichous, inconspicuous; proximal floral bracteole 2.2–2.5 diam, ca. 0.5 mm deep, distal floral bracteole 1.8–2 diam, ca. 0.5 mm deep, scar from sterile staminate flower adnate to outer surface of distal floral bracteole, rounded. Pistillate flowers not seen. Sterile staminate flowers not seen. Fruit spherical, ca. 13 × 13 mm including beak ca. 1 × 1 mm, with 16 longitudinal rows of brown, channeled scales. Seed (sarcotesta removed) 9 × 9 × 4.5 mm, discoid, concave and smoother on one side, convex and with angular sculpturing on the other side; endosperm homogeneous; embryo basal. ( Fig. 3 View FIGURE 3 )

Distribution:— Widespread in southern New Guinea; recorded from the Timika area in Papua Province, Indonesia to Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea.

Habitat:— Occurs in a wide range of lowland primary and secondary forest habitats up to 300 m.

Uses:— Used for tying timbers in construction.

Vernacular names:— Donggieb (Kati), Kurni (Biaru), Tipa (Awin).

Specimens examined:— INDONESIA. Papua Province: Near Mindiptanah, 5°52’S, 140°41’E, 21 August 1957, Dijkstra BW 6628 ( AAU, CANB, L!, LAE); Timika, Campus of PT Freeport Indonesia, Kuala Kencana , walkway to clinic, 60 m, 4°24'10"S, 136°52'5"E, 9 February 1998, Baker et al. 825 ( AAU, BH, BO, K!, L, MAN); Timika, near Kuala Kencana, 50 m, 4°24'19"S, 136°50'27"E, 19 February 1998, Dransfield et al. 7688 (BH, BO, K!, L, MAN) GoogleMaps   . PAPUA NEW GUINEA. Gulf Province: Omei River, Malalaua subdistrict, 150 m, 8°3’S, 146°8’E, 16 April 1980, Akivi & Marukumul NGF 36597 View Materials ( LAE!); Malalaua, Merigem, near Kakoro/Bulldog, 75 m, 7°49'30"S, 146°29'30"E, 24 November 1972, Zieck & Kumul NGF 36531 View Materials (K!, LAE!, L, BH); Malalaua, Omei River , near Kakoro/Bulldog, 75 m, 7°49'30"S, 146°29'30"E, 26 November 1972, Zieck & Kumul NGF 36538 View Materials (BH, CANB, K!, L, LAE); Kerema, Murua, 18.5 km from Kerema, 10 m, 7°58’S, 145°46’E, 22 May 1989, Poudyal et al. 82 (K!); Kikori District , bank of Kikori River near to Kopi, 13 km N of Kikori, 40 m, 7°19'16"S, 144°11'0"E, 19 November 2000, Baker et al. 1094 ( AAU, BRI, K!, LAE, NY) GoogleMaps   . Western Province: North Fly District, Tabubil- Kiunga road, 18 km SSE of Tabubil, 300 m, 5°25'7"S, 141°17'31"E, 11 December 2000, Baker et al. 1128 (holotype K!, isotypes AAU, LAE, NY) GoogleMaps   .

Notes:— Calamus bulubabi   ( Fig. 3 View FIGURE 3 ) is a widespread, though not frequently encountered rattan that is recognised by the combination of broadly elliptic leaflets grouped in divaricate pairs and “hairy” leaf sheaths that are densely covered in fine, flexible, hair-like spines. Several specimens also bear dense, matted, white indumentum between the spines and on other parts, including the leaflets, which may bear a narrow band of white indumentum along the adaxial surface of one margin. It resembles most closely C. papuanus Beccari (1886: 60)   and C. spiculiferus   , both of which bear somewhat similar leaves, leaflets and inflorescence morphology. However, the former is more slender and the latter more robust than C. bulubabi   , both have a group of large leaflets at the leaf apex, whereas the leaflets of C. bulubabi   diminish in size towards the leaf apex, both have spiny inflorescences bracts compared to the usually unarmed inflorescences of C. bulubabi   (except for the prophyll), and neither display the typical hair-like spines. The spines are recognised in the epithet of C. bulubabi   , which is Indonesian for pig hair.

Some material shows close affinities to Calamus bulubabi   , but cannot be confidently placed in the species at this time. Four specimens from 750–1300 m elevation in the Southern Highlands (Baker et al. 635, 655, 1121 [K!, LAE], Zieck NGF 36258 View Materials [BH, LAE!]), all but the last sterile, resemble C. bulubabi   , but differ in having caducous sheath spines, sometimes tough, leathery leaflets, larger apical leaflets grouped at the leaf tip and more robust rachillae. The specimens may represent a high elevation form of C. bulubabi   or may belong to a further undescribed species. Another sterile specimen (Rahiria & Zieck NGF 36564 View Materials [LAE!]) resembles C. bulubabi   vegetatively, but bears low, closely spaced ridges on the stem with occasional spicules, rather than hair-like spines. This specimen was collected in northern New Guinea, whereas all other specimens come from the southern half of the island. We note that there are two gatherings labelled as Zieck & Kumul NGF 36535 View Materials at Leiden, only one of which is C. bulubabi   .


Addis Ababa University, Department of Biology


Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute


Australian National Botanic Gardens


Universitas Negeri Papua


Queensland Herbarium