Vietnamese scientist discovers new species of magnolia tree

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A Vietnamese scientist has discovered a species of magnolia tree unknown to western science in the northern province of Dien Bien, online newspaper VnExpress reported Monday.

Michelia xianianhei Q. N. Vu, discovered by Dr Vu Quang Nam, a botanist at the Hanoi-based Vietnam Forestry University, is known as co may ham hu ma (horse ear-like leaves) among the local Thai ethnic people.

The flower is yellowish and has a fragrance similar to ripe bananas. The leaves have a typical magnolia shape; the tree is some 25 meters tall; and its fruit is 16 to 21 centimeters long.

It is the 23rd species of Michelia a genus of the magnolia family to be found in Vietnam.

Nam's discovery, published in the Nordic Journal of Botany earlier this month, is his fourth since 2010.

Named after the 17th century Italian botanist Pietro Antonio Micheli, the genus Michelia is the second largest in the flowering tree family with 80 or so species distributed mainly in tropical and subtropical Asia, especially China.

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