First Night Flowering Orchid Discovered
The BBC reports that a night-flowering orchid, the first of its kind known to science, has been described by a team of botanists. Experts say the "remarkable" species is the only orchid known to consistently flower at night, but why it's adopted this behavior remains a mystery.
The specimen was discovered by Dutch researcher and study co-author Ed de Vogel during a field trip on an expedition to New Britain, an island near papua New Guinea, in a region of lowland rainforest on the South-East Asian island.
The findings appear in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.
"It was so unexpected because there are so many species of orchids and not one was known to be pollinated at night," said co-author Andre Schuiteman, senior researcher and an orchid expert at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
"It was quite remarkable to find one, after so many years of orchid research, that is night-flowering," he told BBC News.The specimen has been identified as belonging to the Bulbophyllum genus, which - with about 2,000 species - is the largest group in the orchid family. While there are a number of orchids that do attract night-time pollinators, B. nocturnum is the first known species that exclusively flowers at night.