Indonesian Science Institute finds two new species of orchids from Papua, Sulawesi

Indonesian Science Institute finds two new species of orchids from Papua, Sulawesi
Dendrobium nagataksaka. (The Indonesian Science Institute/LIPI)

Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Researchers at the Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI) of Plant and Botanical Conservation Research Centre have found two new species of orchids named Dendrobium nagataksaka and Eulophia lagaligo, LIPI reported as quoted by Indonesia Window here, Monday.

Dendrobium nagataksaka is an epiphytic orchid that grows attached to the surface of the trunk of trees.

“This new species originates from lowland forest areas in West Papua Province,” Destario Metusala, a researcher from Plant and Botanical Conservation Research Centre in  Purwodadi, Central Java, explained.

He added that the Dendrobium genus is one of the orchid groups that has a unique flower and is a very popular ornamental flower commodity.

“This new species has a unique form of flowers with horn-like upright petals and long protruding flower lips, resembling the shape of a dragon’s head,” Destario noted.

These characteristics make the new species called Nagataksaka which was named after Taksaka, a mythological creature of dragon in the Mahabharata epic.

Eulophia lagaligo

Meanwhile, Eulophia lagaligo has been discovered before by a taxonomist, C.L. Blume in 1859. The discovery was based on a specimen from Timor Island under the name Eulophia bicolor.

However, lately the name of the species was not accepted because it had been used by a taxonomist, N. A Danzell in 1851 for different species.

“In taxonomic studies, a name of species can only be used once for a taxa. In addition, Blume considered Eulophia bicolor was the same as Eulophia nuda because of their similarities,” Destario said.

Indonesian Science Institute finds two new species of orchids from Papua, Sulawesi
Eulophia lagaligo. (The Indonesian Science Institute/LIPI)

In 2008, Destario and a team from the LIPI Botanical Garden Conservation Center in Purwodadi found orchid specimens from the genus Eulophia in South Sulawesi.

After conducting an in-depth research, Destario managed to prove that Eulophia bicolor was different from Eulophia nuda.

“Because Eulophia bicolor has been used, we gave the name Eulophia lagaligo for the new species,” he explained.

The “lagaligo” epithet is taken after “La Galigo”, a world heritage literature from Bugis, South Sulawesi, which was written around the 14th century.

According to Destario, Eulophia lagaligo has similarities with Eulophia nuda.

Eulophia lagaligo has upright inflorescences with 5-14 flower buds that bloom almost simultaneously. The flowers are greenish with 2.2-2.8 cm wide and the flower adornments are not fully opened.

“The flower lips are greenish with purple to pinkish complexion in the middle,” Destario noted.

Aside from South Sulawesi, Eulophia lagaligo also grows naturally on Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara.

“This species can grow well in the lowlands at altitudes between 100 to 600 meters above sea level,” he said.

A description of the new species of orchid was published in September 2019 in an international scientific journal, Phytotaxa.

Reporting by Indonesia Window

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