Kew Today - Angraecum eburneum

Come to the Princess of Wales Conservatory to see this beautiful orchid from the islands of the Indian Ocean.

02 Dec 2009

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Angraecum eburneum

Angraecum eburneum (Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew)

The Princess of Wales Conservatory has now reopened after being closed for two weeks for essential maintenance, and several of these gorgeous plants have been transferred here from the Lower Nursery.

Hailing from the western Indian Ocean islands such as Madagascar and Mauritius, this beautiful orchid can be found growing on trees and rocks of dry tropical forests. Consequently this plant species has evolved thick leathery leaves and the same metabolism as cacti to cope with the dry conditions. Curiously scent-less by day, its strong night time perfume draws the moths that pollinate it, guided by the striking white lip that is visible at night.  

Many species of Angraecum, including this one, are considered to be at risk from extinction in the wild and are protected from international trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Unfortunately lowland dry forests are severely threatened by habitat destruction, often being the first to be lost to humans. On Mauritius this plant species is probably down to less than 100 individuals.

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