2020’s Newest Species Include ‘World’s Ugliest Orchid’

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Orchids are not often called ugly, but that is how the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, described a new species of the normally vibrant and delicate flower discovered in the forests of Madagascar.

Gastrodia agnicellus, one of 156 plants and fungal species named by Kew scientists and their partners around the world in 2020, has been crowned “the ugliest orchid in the world.”

“The 11 mm flowers of this orchid are small, brown and rather ugly,” Kew said in its list of the top 10 discoveries of the year. The orchid depends on fungi for nutrition and has no leaves or any other photosynthetic tissue.

Although assessed as a threatened species, the plants have some protection because they are located in a national park.

Among the other discoveries officially named this year were six new species of webcap toadstool mushrooms in the United Kingdom and a strange shrub encountered in southern Namibia in 2010.

Botanist Wessel Swanepoel could not place the shrub in any known genus and neither could anyone else, and so Swanepoel called Kew’s molecular expert Felix Forest and his team foranalysis.

The result was that it was not just a new species, but a new genus and a new family, called Tiganophyton karasense.

While around 2,000 plants are named new to science annually, new families are only published around once a year.

The shrub has bizarre scaly leaves and grows in extremelyhot natural salt pans, hence its name Tiganophyton, derived fromthe Latin ‘Tigani’, or ‘frying pan’, and ‘Phyton’, or ‘plant’.

Martin Cheek, senior research leader at Kew, welcomed the latest natural discoveries.

“Some could provide vital income to communities while others may have the potential to be developed into a future food or medicine,” he said.

But he warned: “The bleak reality facing us cannot be underplayed. With two in five plants threatened with extinction, it is a race against time to find, identify, name, and conserveplants before they disappear.”

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)

Latest articles

$1 billion in TV money is what ensures the Tokyo Olympics will happen

This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. In...

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s EKG feature is coming to 31 new countries

Samsung is expanding its Health Monitor app to 31 new countries, including 28 European countries, and people in those countries will...

Elon Musk loves Joe Biden

This is the web version of CEO Daily. To get it delivered to your inbox, sign up here. Good morning.  In a lengthy phone interview...

Documentary Details Predatory Behavior in Music Industry

The documentary also scrutinizes the behavior of the rapper Octavian, whose debut album release was scrapped by record label Black Butter, a joint...

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here