Conserving orchids endemic to islands

Conservation Biotechnology at Kew is developing methods for the laboratory propagation of island-endemic orchids – species often under threat.

12 May 2011

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Epidendrum montserratense in vitro seedling

In vitro plant of the orchid Epidendrum montserratense ready for weaning (Image: RBG Kew)

Conservation Biotechnology at Kew has started work on novel orchid seed collecting methods, seed germination, propagation and capacity building as part of the in vitro conservation of endemic orchids.

As part of Kew's work on orchid conservation in Madagascar, germination of a number of endemic orchids of Madagascar has been achieved. A field kit for collecting orchid seed is being developed, and Madagascar partners will be trained in techniques for in vitro propagation. Initial training of Madagascar team members has taken place and further work will be undertaken in-country,

Propagation of orchids from UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs), mainly from Montserrat and Turks and Caicos, is another part of this work to conserve island-endemic orchids. Recent successes in the in vitro propagation of threatened island species include the UKOT orchids Epidendrum montserratense, now established in Kew’s Living Collection, and Encyclia caicensis. These have been raised in the laboratory from seed collected by the UKOT team and partners.

Item from Jonathan Kendon (Propagation Assistant, Conservation Biotechnology, Kew)
Originally published in Kew Scientist, issue 38

Scientific Research and Data   

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