Newly discovered orchid in Japan has glass-like petals

CNN -- Mar 21

Sometimes newfound flower species are lurking where scientists least expect to see them — in parks, gardens and even in planters on balconies.

That’s where researchers in Japan recently identified a new species of orchid, its pink-and-white blooms so delicate and fragile they look like they were spun from glass.

The newly described flower is a neighbor to populations of a related orchid species common in Japan that it closely resembles. Its discovery is an important reminder that unknown species are often living right under our noses, scientists reported Friday in the Journal of Plant Research.

“The incredible diversity of the orchid family, Orchidaceae, is truly astonishing, and new discoveries like this Spiranthes reinforce the urgency to study and protect these botanical gems,” Justin Kondrat, lead horticulturist for the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, told CNN in an email. Kondrat was not involved in the research.

Orchids in this genus — Spiranthes — are called “ladies’ tresses” for their resemblance to wavy locks of hair. Spiranthes have a central stem, around which grow an ascending spiral of tiny, bell-shaped flowers that can be white, pink, purple or yellow.

There are about 50 species of Spiranthes found in Eurasia, Australia and the Americas, typically in temperate or tropical regions, and these flowers have been known in Japan for hundreds of years, according to the study. ...continue reading