Decades Old Orchid Specimen Found to Be New Species


Image credit: UC Botanical Garden

Few plants attract as much attention and adoration as orchids, which makes it surprising that a unique specimen—mislabeled Maxillaria croceorubens—went unnoticed in the UC Botanical Garden for nearly two decades.

First collected in the 1980s by renowned orchidologist Donald Dod, the specimen was identified as a unique species thanks to DNA testing and analysis.Dod, who died at age 95 in 2008, spent 17 years living and working in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. During that time, he discovered more than 50 new species. Though this most recently identified species—now known as O. donaldeedodii—was collected by Dod in the 1980s, it remained in his personal collection until the 1990s, when he donated his specimens to UC Berkley.

Paul Licht, the botanical garden's director, commented:

It is perhaps not hard to image that some new small organism had been overlooked...but when it's something like an orchid, which people have lusted after for many decades, it's almost mind boggling.

The genetic research was conducted by James Ackerman of the University of Puerto Rico and W. Mark Whitten of the Florida Museum of Natural History. They thank the "ghost of Donald D. Dod" for providing the samples.

Read more about orchids:
Chasing Orchids and Fireflies in Central Colorado
Newly Discovered Cricket Sips Nectar and Pollinates Orchids (Video)
Orchid House Near Buenos Aires Is Eco-Concious, But Is It Green?

Tags: Conservation

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