The National Museum of the Philippines has featured a Palawan endemic gymnosperm plant species locally known as “Pitogo” or “Pitogong Palawan.”

According to the National Museum, in a Facebook post on March 8, Pitogong Palawan is a cycas from the group of gymnosperms, where the female and male reproductive organs are found in other plants.

The museum also noted that megasporophyll, a leaf on which megaspores are formed, is present in the female cycas, which produce the ovules for reproduction.

Endemic to Puerto Princesa, Aborlan, and Narra in Palawan, and some parts of Oriental Mindoro, Pitogo survives in lowland forests over ultrabasic soils and open grasslands.

“Pitogong-Palawan was originally collected by US-born forester Hugo Curran on the riverbanks of the Malinao river in Palawan in 1906,” the museum said.

“We noted this significant species in our recent exploration as part of the Tuklas Kalikasan field survey in Narra, Palawan, last January,” it added.

This plant species is considered critically endangered due to a continuing decline in habitat and illegal trade, the museum noted.

“The natural populations of C. curranii in Palawan and Mindoro are threatened by overcollection for ornamental purposes and destruction of the forests. According to reports, large quantities of the seeds of this species had been gathered in earlier years and had been distributed in local and foreign gardens and nurseries,” said National Museum botanist Domingo Madulid in a report.

The Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) has listed all Cycas species under Appendix II, which controls the collection and trade of the species along with the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines.

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