Smithatris supraneanae W. J. Kress & K. Larsen, gen. et sp. nov. is described and illustrated. The new taxon was first collected in the limestone hills in the Saraburi Province north of Bangkok, Thailand, and probably ranges into adjacent Burma as well. Smithatris is most closely allied with several genera in the tribe Hedychieae including Curcuma, Stahlianthus, and Hitchenia. It most closely resembles the latter genus sharing the petiolate leaves and long pedunculate inflorescence with congested, pouched bracts, but differing in the deeply split labellum and hood-like structure formed by the lateral staminodes and dorsal corolla lobe that partially encloses the anther. In a separate analysis of the phylogenetic relationships of the genera of the Zingiberaceae based on molecular sequence data, Smithatris forms a nested assemblage with the above three genera thereby supporting recognition of this new taxon at the generic level. Smithatris is commonly used in ceremonies during the Buddhist lent, is sold as a cut flower in local markets in Saraburi, Thailand, and recently has become widespread in commercial nurseries. The fact that this ethnobotanically important plant has remained unknown to taxonomists until now suggests that our knowledge of the flora of tropical Asia is still rudimentary.
Communicating Editor: Jeff H. Rettig