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Discovery of a new orchid in Madagascar

Discovery of a new orchid in Madagascar

Discovery of a new orchid in Madagascar

British scientists recently announced the discovery of a new orchid in Madagascar that is unique to say the least.. While most of these flowers are renowned for their beauty, this species is distinguished by its ugliness. They call this new species “the ugliest orchid in the world”.

Orchid in Madagascar

With around 80% endemicity rate, the biodiversity of Madagascar never ceases to amaze. It conceals infinite treasures which can be discovered little by little.. Gastrodia agnicellus, an orchid that stands out for its unique life cycle and shape, is one of the great discoveries of the year by John Hermans, a British researcher from the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, regarding plant species.

“The ugliest orchid in the world”

Orchids are usually recognized by their beauty and delicacy. At the opposite, this one is qualified as “the ugliest orchid in the world”. It has no leaves, grows from a woolly tuber, and produces a flower with a fleshy appearance, brown on the outside and red on the inside.. But contrary to what she suggests, it gives off a pleasant smell of citrus and rose perfume.

It spends its life mainly underground and rises to the surface to slowly flower at the foot of trees.. Lacking cells for photosynthesis, it can live a very long time and its mode of pollination still remains a mystery.

Growing in the shadows of the forests of Madagascar, This small, leafless flower spends most of its life underground and only comes to the surface to produce fruit and disperse its seeds.. Meaning “little lamb”, the Latin term agnicellus was chosen because the orchid has a woolly and tuberous root.

“By showing a little imagination, you can almost see a lamb’s tongue inside the flower”, underlines Johan Hermans, responsible for its discovery.

Endemic to Madagascar

More than 800 Orchid species are endemic to Madagascar, Gastrodia agnicellus thus adding to the more than 1000 recorded throughout the Big Island. It was directly placed on the list of endangered species due to its very limited range..

Gastrodia agnicellus is a perennial plant, meaning it can live for many years and cultivates a symbiotic relationship with a fungus. But unlike most orchids, which only depend on their fungal symbiont for food at the beginning of their life, this species does not have cells for photosynthesis and is therefore dependent on this close relationship for its entire existence.

The Coco Lodge Majunga team continues to encourage you to conserve the exceptional biodiversity of Madagascar. This discovery is yet another proof of the particularity of Malagasy biodiversity. Let's protect these unique riches !

By #CocoLodgeMajunga

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