are new orchids still being discovered?
By Phillip Cribb - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The recently published checklist of the orchids of the world (www.rbgkew.org.uk/data/orchids)
lists almost 25,000 accepted orchid species in genera. New species continue
to be added at a more or less steady rate of 200-300 per annum and the
discovery of new species shows no sign of declining. New species have
been the life-blood of orchid breeding for the past century and a half
and they continue to enrich most breeding groups. Where are all these
novelties coming from?
The Orchidaceae are cosmopolitan, distributed from within the Arctic
Circle to the islands south of Australia, but the greatest diversity
of species is found in the tropical montane regions of both the Old
and New Worlds, the richest areas being forests on the hills and mountains
between 500 and 2000m elevation. These regions are still poorly explored
botanically, often being inaccessible until roads are cut through them,
facilitating access. New orchids are often found growing on trees near
these roads or on the bare roadside banks where orchids often form monocultures.
They are usually epiphytic species which can also grow on rock and soil
where competition is reduced and moisture levels are sufficiently high.
How long can the flow of new species continue? Well, the last of the
world's wild places are being opened up. The montane forests are under
particular threat from logging as the supply of timber trees in the
lowland forests is exhausted. Logging roads open up areas to subsequent
exploitation by land-hungry immigrants, fields often being cleared on
the steepest slopes. Many orchids are being destroyed before scientists
can describe them. I anticipate that the flow of new species will continue
unabated for a decade or two but time is running out.
Are new species evolving now? The idea that new species of orchids evolve
rapidly has been mooted by some orchid specialists to explain the numbers
of novelties found in the Andes. These ideas are discussed.
Phillip Cribb joined the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in
1974. He is currently Deputy Keeper of the Herbarium and Curator of
the Orchid Herbarium. His current research is concentrated on the Genera
Orchidacearum (GO) project, a new classification of the family, and
on the taxonomy of Old World tropical orchids. He has participated in
many expeditions, especially in the tropics, to study orchids in the
field. He is the author of several books and over 350 papers on orchids
and is co-editor of the Orchid Research Newsletter.He has been a member
of the Royal Horticultural Society's Orchid Committee for over 20 years
and currently chairs the IUCN/Species Survival Commission's Orchid Specialist
Group which publishes Orchid Conservation News.
its Evolution, and the History of Attitudes towards It.
By Harold Koopowitz
Here I examine the rationale and reasoning behind listing various orchid
genera and species on CITES Appendix I and the entire orchid family
on CITES Appendix II. Each of the taxa that have appeared on CITES Appendix
I will be examined and analyzed. It appears that CITES works against
ex situ species conservation by erecting insurmountable bureaucratic
barriers. Arguments that current restrictions on orchid exports are
not the fault of CITES is examined. CITES enforcement varies by country
and signatory. Methods for changing CITES listings ia suggested. It
would also serve conservation, the orchid growing community and CITES
better if all three could cooperate and facilitate making desirable
orchid species available commercially by mass artificial propagation.
Koopowitz is professor of biology at the University of California at
Irvine. He has been collecting, growing and studying orchids for over
30 years. His involvement has been at many levels as a hobbyist, scientist
and commercial grower. He specializes in paphiopedilums and is a fully
accredited orchid judge for the American Orchid Society. He is also
a corresponding member of the Conservation Committee for the American
Orchid Society and serves on the International Orchid Commission. In
addition, he is a member of the Species Survival Commission concerned
with orchids for the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation
of Nature). He has described several of the slipper orchid species and
he is the editor-in-chief for the Orchid Digest.
of the Orchid Hobbyist Through the Centuries
By Norito Hasegawa - Paphanatics LTD
Undoubtedly orchids have been admired for centuries. It is inconceivable
that native people of many countries have not admired orchids as they
grew and flowered in their habitat. However, whether they were collected
and successfully grown as pet plants over the millennia has not necessarily
The first accounts of orchids being truly collected and grown artificially
can be traced to the Chinese who called them lan. But it is possible
lan could have initially included many different flowers such as lilies,
as well as orchids.
The Chinese and Japanese artists included cymbidiums in drawings. The
Japanese samurai admired and collected them for their sweet fragrances,
plant growths, and leaf variations. Neofinetias were collected and nurtured
as well. Since the simple start and art of collecting and cultivating
orchids in China and Japan, the Western world caught up quickly, spreading
the gospel of orchids. Commercial ventures especially in England grew
around the importations and new discoveries of orchids. The expense
of collecting and importing with subsequent huge losses made it prohibitive
for the ordinary hobbyists to purchase them in great quantities. Mostly
the affluent became avid collectors and their activities undoubtedly
included things such as one-upmanship, prestige, snobbery and pride
of possession in a one-of-a-kind orchid plant or hybrid. Many books
were written touting different formulas for growing orchids including
greenhouse culture and outdoor culture, thus spreading the word on how
“easy” it was to grow many orchids. The growth of many orchid
societies undoubtedly has had influence in popularizing the hobby. Today
orchids are so readily available in grocery stores, general gardening
stores, and through the Internet, that the hobby of orchid collecting
runs the gamut of those who are serious orchid breeders, to artists,
to orchid scientists, to multiple and monogeneric collectors, and of
course to those wishing to have potfuls of beautiful, inexpensive, unlabeled
orchids. Getting to this last phase of the hobby, of course, took centuries
to accomplish which includes the evolution and improvements of artificial
germination, the improvements of growing media, the concept of meristeming,
and the use of computerization in growing, marketing, and orchid distribution.
stars: the angraecoid orchids of Africa and Madagascar
By Joyce Stewart - England
At least 55 genera of orchids are currently recognised in the epiphytes
comprising the two subtribes Angraecinae (19) and Aerangidinae
(36) (Dressler 1993). At least 48 of these genera, comprising a
total of c.680 species, occur in Africa and Madagascar. For the most
part the species are easily recognised, and some of the genera are well
circumscribed. But there are at least 18 monotypic genera and 23 genera
with less than 10 species each. Only a few genera have 40 or more species,
and Angraecum has more than 220 species. Size alone is not a criterion
for generic delimitation, but surely this genus, with its very diverse
plant habits, inflorescences and flowers, is overdue for revision ?
Several others, including Aeranthes, Diaphananthe, Tridactyle, Rangaeris
and Angraecopsis also demonstrate remarkable differences
Are there currently too few genera, or too many ? In this paper attention
will be drawn to those taxa, large and small, where DNA analysis might
yield information that could be useful in a taxonomic revision of these
Joyce Stewart is a botanist and amateur orchid grower who spent 22 years
in Africa. Since then she has been the first Sainsbury Orchid Fellow
at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and then Director of Horticulture,
Science and Education for the Royal Horticultural Society. Now ‘retired’,
she participated of the 18th WOC as a President of the WOC Trust (nowadays
the President is Peter Furniss).
By Dr. Holger Perner
Within the slipperorchids, i.e. the subfamily Cypripedioideae
GARAY, the genus Cypripedium L. comprising 48 species forms the second
largest group behind Paphiopedilum PFITZER with currently 75
excepted species. For more than 150 years tropical slipperorchids of
the genera Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium ROLFE are in
the focus of scientists and horticulturists alike. Since about 10 years
the interest is increasing as well in the temperate genus Cypripedium
and a comprehensive monograph by the eminent orchidologist Phillip CRIBB
paid tribute to this. China is a good starting point to introduce the
genus because it hosts 71 % of all known species. The world-wide highest
concentration of temperate slipper orchids is found in the mountains
of Southwest China were 25 species occur, 20 of them endemic to the
region. All sections of the genus known from China will be shortly discussed.
Some remarks on the ecology, conservation and cultivation of the Chinese
cypripediums will conclude the presentation.
Perner was born in Hamburg, Germany. He is graduated as Diplom-Biologe
(master degree in plant ecology) in 1991 and PhD (ecology) in 1996.
Until 2001 researcher and scientific editor in a German national research
centre, since 2001 working for the Huanglong Nature reserve, Sichuan,
By Jean Koenig
150 species of wild orchids can be found in France. Their number was
lower some 50 years ago but researches leading to a better knowledge
of taxa allowed to distinguish several new species. Some are growing
on quite restricted areas, others can be found over a large part of
the country. Their most adequate biotope can be either dry or wet, basic
or acid, open or covered. Eighteen species are very rare and protected
at a national level, others are protected only in some French administrative
regions due to their scarcity or the precarity of their biotopes in
those regions. French Orchids mapping has been set up since more than
20 years with the help of the Environment Ministry. This program points
out the species geopgraphic distributions in correlation with their
ecological requirements. The identified variations in quantitative distribution
data might indice protective actions, now or in the future. Populations
evolution during this period presents variations which may be caused
by climatic changes and direct human action. The localization of orchids
in about 40 departments, out of 95 in total, has been published and
a national synthesis will be edited in a few years.
is graduated from the Uuniversité Paris XI ( DEA d’amélioration
des plantes).Vice President of the Société Française
d’Orchidophilie (SFO) and President of the Groupement Auvergne
de la SFO.
7) The Ecuadorian species and their evolution
By Alexander Hirtz
has been a recent explosion in evolution in certain genera of orchids
in Ecuador, with 2200 new species discovered in the past few decades.
Only 12% of the total of 220 genera account for 90% of the new discoveries.
Also several new genera have been discovered recently, like the genus
Benzingia, Teaguea, Suarezia or Epibator, which will be
discussed with some highlights and description of their habitat.
kind of reproduction (print, digital or anyone other) of any
type of material of this site - texts, layout, photos, images
and others - is strictly forbidden without previous written
permission by the authors.