“Spiranthes hachijoensis”: New orchid discovered on Pacific island

Science Japan

New orchid discovered – after years of overlooked species

The new species belongs to the genus Spiranthes, the best known in Japan

The new species belongs to the genus Spiranthes, the best known in Japan

Source: Masayuki Ishibashi/Kenji Suetsugu/dpa

She is “breathtaking”, her pink petals come close to artistic “glass works”: Japanese researchers have discovered a new orchid. What was surprising, however, was that the new species did not flower in the rain forest, as it usually does, but in inconspicuous surroundings.

She is considered the queen of flowers: the orchid. Up to 25,000 different species are known worldwide. Now researchers in Japan have discovered a new “breathtaking” species with its actually extensively researched flora. Since Kobe University’s Kenji Suetsugu and his team initially found them on the Pacific island of Hachijo-jima, administratively part of Tokyo, they gave the orchid the name “Spiranthes hachijoensis”.

The researchers were all the more surprised that the new species grows in completely inconspicuous surroundings such as parks and even on balconies. With their pink petals, they resemble artistic “glass works,” the scientists describe in the Journal of Plant Research her discovery. The new species belongs to the genus Spiranthes, the best known in Japan and prized for centuries.

For a long time, researchers believed that Spiranthes on the Japanese main island of Honshu was a single species: “Spiranthes australis”.

New orchid species discovered in Japan

The new species belongs to the genus Spiranthes, the best known in Japan

Source: dpa/-

However, during extensive field research focused on Japanese Spiranthes specimens, Suetsugu encountered several populations of an unknown Spiranthes taxon with hairless flower stalks. The unknown taxon often grows alongside Spiranthes australis, but blooms about a month earlier, it said. Since Spiranthes australis is characterized by a hairy flower stalk, the hairless specimens could simply have been overlooked.

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ATTENTION: THIS CONTRIBUTION MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED BEFORE THE EMBARGOED MARCH 14, 20:00!  A BREACH OF THE EMBARGO COULD SENSITIVELY LIMIT REPORTING ON STUDIES.  HANDOUT - Fairy circles in Namibia (photo taken May 2009).  Researchers report the discovery of fairy circles in the western Australian outback that are nearly identical to those found in southwestern Africa.  Fairy circles are circular patches of bare soil in grasslands that form a uniform hexagonal pattern.  MANDATORY CREDIT: Photo: Stephan Getzin/dpa ATTENTION EDITORS: For editorial use only if the source is fully named: "Photo: Stephan Getzin/dpa" (To dpa "Researcher: Termites don't make fairy circles" from 03/14/2016) ++

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The fact that such a new species has been found in Japan, with its intensively researched flora, and that it grows in ordinary parks, gardens and on balconies, shows that one does not have to travel to remote tropical rainforests to make such discoveries.

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