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Researchers discover new species of orchid in southern Thailand

PHOTO: www.novataxa.blogspot.com/

A new species of orchid has been discovered near the Paribatra waterfall area in the southern province of Songkhla. The National News Bureau of Thailand reports that a team of researchers from the Prince of Songkhla University discovered the new species, “Aphyllorchis periactinantha”, which has prompted much interest among botanists and other plant enthusiasts.

According to the report, Professor Sahut Chantanaorrapint, a biology lecturer at the university, named the orchid after the waterfall where it was found and the discovery has been documented in PhytoKeys, a global botanical publication.

Aphyllorchis periactinantha is what’s known in the botanical world as a “mycoheterotrophic plant”. According to Professor Sahut, this means it’s either partly or totally non-photosynthetic, instead deriving its nutrients and energy from fungi. By contrast, photosynthetic plants transform sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into oxygen and energy in the form of sugar.

The Aphyllorchis periactinantha’s branch can grow up to 150 centimetres and is covered in white and yellow flowers, which bloom from October to December.

The area around the Paribatra waterfall, where the plant was first discovered, has long been a tourist spot popular with both foreign and Thai visitors. The orchid has since been found elsewhere in southern Thailand, in the forests of Yala and Narathiwat provinces.

Researchers say discovery of the orchid has significant implications for the conservation of endangered and unique plants and the restoration of natural habitats. They are hopeful the latest development will lead to more research and conservation efforts in the kingdom.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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