New Guinea’s Plants Are ‘Majestic, Stunning, Intriguing and Bizarre’

As the world’s largest tropical island, New Guinea has over 13,000 plant species, more than even Madagascar or Borneo. With varied habitats, like coastal jungles, tropical rainforests, high cloud forests, and alpine grasslands, there’s incredible biodiversity. Two-thirds of the island’s species are found nowhere else. Using their botanical riches, ancient New Guineans domesticated two of the world’s most valuable crops, bananas and sugarcane.

As for orchids, New Guinea is home to over 2400 native varieties. The article includes great pictures of two weird Bulbophyllums: the only known night-blooming orchid, Bulb. nocturnum, and Bulb. tarantula, with spidery flowers.

The native peoples of New Guinea have done well as stewards of the land, but the modern world is encroaching. Sadly, their incredible heritage is threatened by deforestation, roads which fragment forests, and climate change. Scientists are working to safeguard the island’s wildlife, but also need more funding. They have taken this primary step of creating a conservation checklist. Indonesia, which controls the western half of the island, has pledged to protect 70% of remaining forests. If scientists, governments, and local peoples work together, they can save this marvelous place. Read more about New Guinea’s natural wonders at Mongabay.

Explore posts in the same categories: Conservation, In the News

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