New orchid species discovered in California, USA


This video, about the USA, in French, is called Yosemite National Park 2006.

From the Straits Times in Singapore:

Botanists discover new orchid species

SAN FRANCISCO – SCIENTISTS announced the discovery of a rare, new orchid species that flourishes only in the wet meadows of a beloved portion of California’s Yosemite National Park.

Botanist Alison Colwell said the species’ minute, tennis-ball yellow flowers were not what first led her to it, but rather the smell of sweaty feet the Yosemite bog-orchid emits to attract would-be pollinators.

‘I was out surveying clovers one afternoon, and I started smelling something. I was like, ‘Eew, what’s that?” said Ms Colwell, who works for the US Geological Survey in El Portal, California.

‘It smelled like a horse corral on a hot afternoon,’ she added.

The plant, which is the only known orchid species endemic to California’s Sierra Nevada range, grows in spring-fed areas between 1,800m and 2,700m, Ms Colwell said.

All nine sites where the orchid has been spotted are inside the park, some adjacent to areas popular among visitors, according to an article announcing the species’ discovery published in Madrono, a journal of the California Botanical Society.

The species is not likely to have any commercial value since its flowers are less than a quarter of an inch wide, but some orchid lovers were so enthused by the news they began planning cross-country trips to see its delicate summer blooms.

Ms Colwell, one of three scientists credited with the discovery, said the bog-orchid is thought to have persisted in the upland meadows south of Yosemite Valley, which nourished unique plant species because the area never froze under glacial cover.

At least seven other rare plant species have been found there, including the Yosemite onion, Yosemite woolly sunflower and Bolander’s clover.

Park officials said they would not release details about where the plant was found because they were concerned visitors might love it to death.

‘There’s concern that it will get trampled,’ said ranger Adrienne Freeman.

A botanist named George Henry Grinnell collected the first Yosemite bog-orchid in 1923 and sent the dried, pressed flower to an herbarium that later gave its collections to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Ms Colwell said.

Ron Coleman, a visiting scientist at the garden, was combing through the collection one Friday morning in July 1993 when he found the original specimen on a herbarium sheet ringed with notes handwritten by Grinnell, who believed the flower was related to the green bog-orchid.

Orchids are the largest plant family in nature with some 30,000 species worldwide.

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