Oncoba (Oncoba sp. nov.)

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Oncoba sp. flower
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Oncoba fact file

Oncoba description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderViolales
FamilyFlacourtiaceae
GenusOncoba (1)

This tree is known as 'feewu a wu' by local people and has only recently been recognised as a new species; it is so new to science that it does not yet have a specific name (2). The spiny tree may grow to around 6 metres tall; it bears small leaves, which have serrated edges with around 15 'teeth' (2). The small white flowers have oval petals and numerous yellowish stamens, which form a dense mass measuring around 3 centimetres in diameter (2). Hard, rounded fruits are produced, which are marked by roughly 9 lines running from tip to tip (2).

Size
Height: 6 m (2)
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Oncoba biology

Very little is known about this new species. The fruits of this tree are used in traditional medicine and the pulp may also be used by local people to make rattles (2).

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Oncoba range

Endemic to Mount Oku and the Ijim Ridge of Cameroon in West Africa, this species was thought to persist only in cultivation (2). A recent expedition however, uncovered a single wild tree in the Bali-Ngemba Forest (3). Other cultivated trees are known from a number of compounds belonging to traditional healers; there are thought to be around 10 isolated trees in total (2).

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Oncoba habitat

It is thought that this tree was previously found in montane forest at around 1,900 metres above sea level (2).

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Oncoba status

Classified as Extinct in the Wild (EW -) under IUCN Red List criteria (2).

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Oncoba threats

This tree has lost from the wild probably as a result of the clearance of forests for timber and for the development of agricultural land (2).

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Oncoba conservation

It is vital that any surviving trees are recorded and protected. There has been some success with growing trees from seed and the potential for reintroducing this species to the wild needs to be explored (2).

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Stamens
The male reproductive organ of a flower, it is made up of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk). (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2003) www.redlist.org
  2. Cheek, M., Onana, J.-M. and Pollard, B.J. (2000) The Plants of Mount Oku & the Ijim Ridge, a Conservation Checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
  3. Cheek, M. (Jan, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Oncoba sp. flower  
Oncoba sp. flower

© Ben Pollard / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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