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A new species of functionally dioecious bush tomato of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum is described. Solanum scalarium Martine & T.M.Williams, sp. nov., is a member of the taxonomically challenging “Kimberley dioecious clade” in Australia and differs from other species in the group in its spreading decumbent habit and conspicuously prickly male floral rachis. The species is so far known from one site in Judbarra/Gregory National Park in the Northern Territory. Ex situ crosses and confirmation of inaperturate pollen grains produced in morphologically cosexual flowers indicate that these flowers are functionally female and the species is functionally dioecious. The scientific name reflects the ladder-like appearance of the inflorescence rachis armature of male individuals, the stone staircase that provides access to the type locality at the Escarpment Lookout Walk, and the importance of maintaining equitable and safe access to outdoor spaces. The common name Garrarnawun Bush Tomato is proposed in recognition of the lookout point at this site, a traditional meeting place of the Wardaman and Nungali-Ngaliwurru peoples whose lands overlap in this area.


Published in PhytoKeys, 216 (103-116).

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