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Nature Spiranthes hachijoensis: new orchid discovered in Japan


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
A new species of orchid with delicate, glass-like blooms has been discovered by Japanese scientists, who found the pink and white plant hiding in plain sight. Despite its presence in Japan's parks and gardens, it took researchers at Kobe University a decade to confirm that the plant -- dubbed the "Spiranthes hachijoensis" -- was a previously unknown species.

Spiranthes hachijoensis

Spiranthes hachijoensis, whose rosy pink petals bear a striking resemblance to glasswork, can be found in common environments such as lawns and parks, and even in private gardens and on balconies, and yet until now it had not been named. That is because until now it was believed that all the Spiranthes on the Japanese mainland were a single species, when in fact there are two. [...] It was while looking at Spiranthes australis during fieldwork that Prof Kenji Suetsugu, of Kobe University, noticed that some apparently common or garden Spiranthes had hairless stems while most were notably furrier. Suetsugu and colleagues from Tohoku University and the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute embarked on a decade-long study of the flowers, collecting specimens from locations in Japan, Taiwan and Laos.

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