Mountains of orchids...
New species of orchids discovered on Borneo's highest mountain
22 Dec 2009
Dendrobium serena-alexianum (Image: Tony Lamb)
With just over 25,000 species, the orchids are probably the world's largest flowering plant family. Kew’s orchid experts Dr Jeff Wood and Dr Phil Cribb have added 38 new species to the total this year alone. Jeff Wood has been studying the orchids of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Borneo (4095m), for more than a decade and yet continues to discover species new to science.
Mount Kinabalu, Borneo's highest mountain
“Kinabalu is unbelievably rich,” says Dr Wood. “In an area of just 1,200 square kilometres 866 different orchids occur, including 13 new species described this year alone”. But there is trouble in paradise; Borneo’s forests are being devastated by widespread logging for timber and oil palm plantations. Dr Wood has named a further 15 new species this year, all of which have been discovered in logging areas in Borneo. Orchids face a further threat – illegal collection for the horticultural trade.
Wood’s research is essential – put simply, by placing these spectacular plants on the map, he is throwing them a lifeline.
Other species discovered in Borneo include Callicarpa argentii, a small endangered tree with bright red fruits.
- A bumper year for Kew in new species discovery
- Canopy giants from the rainforests of Cameroon
- From the tallest to the smallest - tiny fungi and miniature flowering plants
- New palms from Madagascar
- New coffee species that could help safeguard your daily cup
- An ancient aquatic plant on the rocks
- Discovered in a glasshouse!
- New knee-high eucalyptus discovered in Australia
- New species of indigo
- A unique endangered yam from South Africa
- Twenty new species from Brazil
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