Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tourist’s novel orchid find

Scientists have confirmed that an orchid discovered by a tourist in South China is a new species.

The dazzling flower is entirely yellow and the plant has no leaves for photosynthesis and carries the biggest seeds of all known orchids.

Named as Danxiaorchis sinchiana, it was found in the remote mountains of Shaoguan, Guangdong province, by .

In May 2010, tourist Zhu Jiaqiang and some friends were hiking in Danxia when Zhu came upon half a dozen beautiful orchids in a grassless area. He took photos and posted on the internet, drawing the attention of botanists.

Scientists from various specialist centres went to the mountains with Zhu and have now concluded that it is indeed a new species. A news conference has just announced the discovery.

According to a press report, Liu Zhongjian, a senior expert with the Asia branch of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's orchid group, said: "The discovery of Danxiaorchis sinchiana has enriched the diversity and gene bank of the orchid species, and the special structure of the seed provides a new research interest for orchid evolution."

Other plant species have also been reported in the area, but human activities have limited the range of orchid species. Liu has called for authorities to build a protection zone for the new species and start gene research for a possible reproduction study.

So far, scientists have found 21 individual Danxiaorchis sinchiana, with the total number estimated at less than 100.

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