Aglaonema rotundum in Gunung Pandan, East Aceh

9 January 2022. - Aglaonema rotundum is a terrestrial aroid endemic to the northern part of Sumatra. It is one of the most beautiful species of ornamental aroid having ovate to the broadly ovate lamina. At present, formal publications of this species only mention the distribution in Sumatra Utara Province. With the growing interest in this species as an ornamental plant, with a relatively low price, the decline of the population will likely continue soon.

Gunung Pandan is a popular tourism site in southeastern Aceh Province. The main attraction is a river with clear water flowing from the forest on the eastern side of the Barisan mountains. The vegetation in Gunung Pandan is heavily disturbed by the presence of palm oil and rubber plantations.

Aglaonema rotundum, for the first time, was popularized in this area as a very beautiful ornamental aroid. The magnificent leaf color gained interest from anyone throughout the country. Possibly, this plant is special in having darker leaves, similar to those on the recently described Bornean Begonia daunhitam.

Many individuals of this species were found on rubber plantations, growing on relatively steep slopes. The populations, besides being threatened by collecting activities, are also susceptible to herbicide and weed clearing.

With the poor knowledge of its basic information like distribution, morphological variation, etc., it is hoped that interest in research activities is also growing. A proper IUCN Red List assessment is needed to evaluate the extinction risk of this species. The main geographic range is probably the eastern half of northern Sumatera, where Gunung Pandan is among the most important sites.