Scientists have discovered a new plant species in the buffer zone of the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park in central Quang Binh province.

The scientists from Germany's Institute of Botany in Dresden, the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, and Department of Botany under the Hanoi Pharmacology University found the plant in the shadows of an evergreen forest zone in the province's Minh Hoa district.

The plant, which the scientists have named Aristolochia quangbinhensis Do, is said to belong to the Aristolochia branch of the Aristolochiaceae family.

The distinguishing characteristics of the new species, said to be similar to some found in the southern part of China, are that it has "a petiole 1.5–2.5cm long, lamina elliptic to oblong-elliptic and peduncle 1.5–2cm long covered with yellow-brown trichomes".

The scientists have suggested that the new find be listed as a vulnerable species under criteria established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), because its habitat is in the area with burning and cultivation activities where efforts to do away with slash-and-burn agriculture have not totally successful.

Established in 2001, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is home to a large number of faunal and floral species. It is also among the 238 most important ecological zones in the world, and was recognised by the UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site on geological and geomorphologic criteria in 2003.

The park is divided into three different subdivisions, including a zone under strict protection, an area for ecological restoration and an administrative area.

The core zone subject to strict protection is located in Bo Trach and Minh Hoa districts, while the buffer zone covering 220,000ha spreads out over 13 communes in three districts - Bo Trach, Minh Hoa and Quang Ninh.-VNA