Discovery: Phyllanthus Kaweesakii Pornp. (Chantar & J. Parn.), a Mirabilis Lookalike.
I recently post a question on reddit regarding a caudex I purchased from Thailand and asking the kind redditors if they can help identify this plant. To me, it looked like some type of Phyllanthus; same feather-like compound leaves, coppery young sprouts but whiter and hardier caudex. 🤔 The nursery called it 'Gooseberry' which in Thai is generally what they call a Phyllanthus Mirabilis.
After unsuccessful discussions with redditors, I then went on a search mission to find the ID and instead found another type of Phyllanthus Sp. Nova! There are so many Phyllanthus out there that has the same characteristics and share the same look as Phyllanthus Mirabilis - it can get confusing. So here are the types of Phyllanthus that most people confused with Mirabilis and how to tell them apart.
Phyllanthus Kaweesakii Pornp., Chantar & J. Parn.
Founded/ History: Founded in '97 and named in honour of the discoverer & sample collector; Mr. Kaweesak Kiratikiet from Thailand. Published & officially recognised in 2017.
Caudex Characteristics: Typically smaller than Mirabilis in size with more main branches (sometimes 3 or more).
Leaves Characteristics: Small, rounded, with short petioles and with nothing more than 4-7 pairs of leaves on a stem. The leaves are slightly blue-green in color. Rounded leaves stays the same until mature.
Phyllanthus Mirabilis Müll. Arg.
Founded/ History: Ranges from North to South of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia & Malaysia.
Caudex Characteristics: plump trunk with generally 1 main branch (rarely 2).
Leaves Characteristics: Soft, compound green or burgundy'ish colored leaves (similar leaf structure as Tamarind leaves- featherlike). Leaf color interestingly are random! In some cases, both green & burgundy leaves come from the same mother plant. Oval & slightly rounded leaves when young, oval with more pointier leaves when mature.
*INTERESTING FACT: The red/burgundy'ish leaf is a result of an evolution process of tricking insects that it is an old leaf! But nutrients & mineral may affect the leaves color as well.
Phyllanthus Sp. Nova (No ID plants)
Phyllanthus Sp. Nova A (Burgundy Outline Leaves)
Founded/ History: Discovered since 1998 but have yet to be officially named & published.
Caudex Characteristics: much bark'ier texture.
Leaves Characteristics: thicker, shiny, hardier and leathery-like leaves with beautiful burgundy outline.
Phyllanthus Sp. Nova B (White Bark)
Founded/ History: Discovered since 2004 but have yet to be officially named & published.
Caudex Characteristics: white, hardier than others & sometimes with 'knot'-like caudex.
Leaves Characteristics: small, oval, rounded leaves throughout. Fiery red when young, green when mature.
It amazes me to think there are still so many plants out there that are waiting to be discovered or being realised that they are indeed different from what we thought it is! We owe it to the discoverers to educate us about it. I'd be happy to hear your comment, feedback or share if you have any of these plants in your care in the comments below.
Take care & stay safe!