New Zealanders Can Help Unravel a 250-Year-Old Orchid Mystery

Massey University student Hayden Jones and Botany Curator Carlos Lehnebach are launching a citizen-science project to solve an orchid mystery. Maikuku, also known as the White Sun Orchid or Thelymitra longifolia, is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most common orchids. Although it was scientifically discovered 250 years ago, botanists wonder if its beautiful white blooms represent multiple species. Locals can help to research the answer by measuring key parts of the orchids in the wild. Volunteers need to register, and have an iNaturalist account, which is free. Scientists will use the data to search for distinct species, and to better focus conservation efforts. Kiwis, and the rest of the world, are looking forward to learning the answers.

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