Japanese find new orchid species Spiranthes australis
ITime and time again, new plant species, that is, species previously unknown to science, are being discovered. Last year, for example, it was the giant water lily Victoria Boliviana in northern Bolivia, the Garrarnawun bush tomato Solanum scalarium in Australian outback, the orchid Gastrochilus pankajkumarii in the highlands of Vietnam and the two bottle trees Uvariopsis dicaprio in Cameroon and Disepalum rawagambut on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Not surprisingly, all of these newcomers were found in tropical climes, far from human civilization. In the tropics, plant diversity is much higher – in New Guinea there are 13,634 known plant species, in Germany only 4105 – and where there are few people, there is not only more untouched nature left, there tended to be not so many botanists there and have checked.
It is all the more surprising that Kenji Suetsugu, professor of botany at the University of Kobe, together with colleagues, is already scientifically describing the second flowering plant in 2023 – and that both species do not grow in a remote tropical region, but in a cold, temperate, highly industrialized, densely populated region and concreted accordingly Japan.
Just two weeks ago, Suetsugu and his staff published in the specialist journal phytotaxa the finding of a fairy lantern of the species Thismia kobensis published. Strictly speaking, it was not a new discovery: the species from the order of the yams had already been seen in the city of Kobe in 1992, but the site was built over in 1999 and the species has since been considered extinct. That was with her relatives more than 100 years ago Thismia americana happened before in Chicago. But in 2021, the botanists from Kobe came across about twenty specimens of in a tree plantation near the town of Sanda about thirty kilometers away T.kobensis.
This finally allowed the species to be described exactly. So far, this had only been done using an incomplete museum specimen. At the time, this suggested a relationship with a Thismia species occurring in Australia and New Zealand. Most of the other eighty or so representatives of these strange plants, which do not carry out photosynthesis but feed themselves with the help of symbiotic fungi, grow in the tropics. But now it turns out that the Japanese fairy lantern is much more closely related to the American one, whose ancestors probably came to North America from East Asia via the Bering Strait.
On Friday, Kenji Suetsugu and his team published another description of a new plant species, this time in Journal of Plant Research. Suetsugu had already noticed about ten years ago that the specimens of the orchid species widespread in Japan Spiranthes australis some of the twisting root genus, which also occurs in our country, bloom a good month before the others and they also lack the hairs on the stems. Only molecular biological methods confirmed the assumption that it is a separate, from S. australis reproductively isolated twistroot species, which the researchers Spiranthes hachijoensis Named after the island of Hachijo-jima, 300 kilometers south of Tokyo. It was there that Suetsugu first noticed her. But now that you know what to look for, the scientifically new orchid can be found all over Japan, as well as elsewhere such as Laos and Taiwan – and not only in the wild, but also in city parks, private gardens and even on balconies .