Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pharmaceutical researcher fined big bucks for smuggling orchids

The UK Life Style Extra reports that a scientist was fined 100,000 pounds for "smuggling more than 100 'priceless' orchids into Britain" including "one species that only grows in small numbers in a remote area of a national park in Sarawak in Malaysia." A further two of the orchids "were only discovered in 1997 in the remote Indonesian island of Sulawesi and are believed to be extinct because of illegal collection."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Orchid news: "wasp" orchids, ghost orchids, rare Norweigan orchid, new Yosemite species discovered, and research grants

Lots of interesting orchid news this month, including new Australian species, sighting of a large cluster of ghost orchids in Florida, the rediscovery of a rare orchid species in Norway, the discovery of a rare Yosemite orchid that smells like sweaty feet, and a large research grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.

National Geographic News reported last week that hammer orchids have "a flower that has evolved to resemble the body of a female wasp. Hapless male wasps are lured to land on—and thus pollinate—the flower." Moreover, this orchid is "one of six new species found in the biologically rich region of southwestern Australia."

In North American orchid news, "a pair of bird watchers discovered an unusually large cluster of nine of the rare and endangered [ghost orchids / Polyrrhiza lindenii] while searching the [Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary] for owls" earlier this month, reports the Naples Daily News. According to this news report, these orchids normally only bloom in clusters of one to three. The Miami Herald also reported on this story.

The Norway Post is reporting that a "rare orchid, Cephalanthera rubra (Rød Skogsfrue), has been rediscovered in Aust-Agder. It had not been seen for 56 years, before now."

The Mercury News is reporting the discovery of a new orchid species in Yosemite National Park that apparently smells like sweaty feet. The plant is "the only known orchid species endemic to California’s Sierra Nevada range."

In orchid research news, a John Cushman, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Nevada Reno "along with researchers from the University of Florida and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, was awarded a three-year grant of $750,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the evolution of plants with a form of photosynthesis called crassulacean acid metabolism or CAM." This research looks at "plants with the metabolic ability to use less water than other plants," reports the UNR NevadaNews.