Witch hazel (Maingaya malayana)

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Witch hazel fact file

Witch hazel description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderHamamelidales
FamilyHamamelidaceae
GenusMaingaya (1)

Witch hazel is the name commonly given to the medicinal plants belonging to the genus Hammelis (2), but is sometimes also used to refer to the less well known monotypic genus, Maingaya (3). The sole species in the genus is Maingaya malayana, a very rare evergreen tree with smooth bark, simple, alternate leaves, and dense, yellow flowers (3) (4) (5). In the wild it grows as a tall, sub-canopy tree, reaching up to 27 metres, but in cultivation it spreads horizontally and rarely exceeds three metres in height (4).

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Witch hazel biology

Aspects of the biology of Maingaya malayana are yet to be described.

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Witch hazel range

Confined to peninsular Malaysia, Maingaya malayana is historically known from two localities at Penang Island and Perak (1) (4). While a small population is still thought to occur on Penang Island, the persistence of the population at Perak has not been confirmed since the 19th century (3).

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Witch hazel habitat

Maingaya malayana has been recorded in primary rainforest from 300 to 1,000 metres above sea level (4).

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Witch hazel status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Witch hazel threats

It is not apparent exactly what factors contributed to Maingaya malayana’s decline in the wild, but unsustainable logging and clearance of trees for agriculture are responsible for an enormous loss of forest cover in Malaysia (6).

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Witch hazel conservation

Although the status of Maingaya malayana in the wild appears uncertain, this species persists in several botanical gardens around the world (3) (4) (5).

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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

Monotypic
A taxonomic group comprising only one member, i.e. a family with one genus or a genus with one species.
Primary rainforest
Rainforest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Lane, C. (2005) Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector Guide: Witch Hazels. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
  3. Rimba Ilmu Botanic Gardens (January, 2009)
    http://rimba.um.edu.my/index.html
  4. Dransfield, J. (1993) Maingaya malayana: Hamamelidaceae. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 10(2): 81 - 84.
  5. Rimbun Dahan (January, 2009)
    http://www.rimbundahan.org/environment/plant_lists/hamamelidaceae/index.htm
  6. WWF-Malaysia (January, 2009)
    http://www.wwf.org.my/about_wwf/what_we_do/forests_main
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Image credit

Maingaya malayana flowers  
Maingaya malayana flowers

© Fletcher & Baylis

Wildside Photography
kfletcher@wildsidephotography.ca
http://www.wildsidephotography.ca

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