Scientific Name: Monochaetum magdalenense
Common Names: none
Plant Type: Perennial shrub
Environment: Morning or filtered sun
Bloom: Purple/magenta flowers with elongated yellow stamen
Uses: An attractive specimen plant or part of a mixed border
Monochaetum magdalenense is an eye-catching shrub from Colombia. A member of the Melastomataceae family, the species was first described in 1971 by John Wurdack, a former curator of the US National Herbarium. Warduck was a specialist in neotropical Melastomataceae and produced treatments of the family for floras of Venezuela, Ecuador, and the Guianas. Notably, he was also part of the expedition that discovered Cerro de la Neblina on the Venezuelan-Brazilian border, one of the last major mountain ranges in the world to be discovered in the world in 1953.
Monochaetum magdalenense was described from material collected in 1969 on Cuchilla San Lorenzo, a mountain in the central portion of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. While the mountain reaches elevations over 9,000 ft, M. magdalenense was collected at about 7,000 ft above sea level. The species is noted for its vibrant purple flower and elongated yellow stamens. Another prominent characteristic of the species is the leaves with 5 longitudinal veins. Monochaetum magdalenense has also been noted to have rough hairs found on many surfaces of the plant, which distinguishes it from other species of the genus.
The species is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in northern Colombia. This mountain range is one of the highest coastal ranges in the world and is home to over 3,000 types of vascular plants. The area was also named one of the most irreplaceable sites in the world for threatened species by a study from 2013. This study examined protected areas around the world and created guidance for managing these areas in order to best protect biodiversity and prevent global species extinctions. While this study only looked at animal species, further studies have found there to be high levels of plant endemism in the area as well.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text, profile, and photos Victoria Stewart