Archive for the 'In the News' Category

Study Shows Orchid Family Emerged and Thrived Alongside Dinosaurs

Saturday, April 13th, 2024

Scientists from the UK, Latin America, Asia, and Australia have assembled the most extensive orchid family tree ever created. It’s part of a new study, which also finds that orchids first evolved about 85 million years ago. That means they shared the earth with dinosaurs for about 20 million years. Contrary to previous works which […]

The Little-Known Truth about Vanilla

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

Vanilla is one of the world’s favorite and costliest flavorings, but many don’t know that it comes from an orchid. Considering this, it’s no surprise that most people aren’t aware of the deeper history of these fragrant, cured seedpods. Vanilla’s roots as a valuable food go back to Mexico’s ancient Totonacs and Aztecs, who harvested […]

Island Orchid Adapts to Find New Pollinator

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

Like all living organisms, orchids adapt to survive. An orchid arrived on a remote island, without the bumblebee species which pollinates it. Goodyera henryi lives in parts of east Asia, including the Japanese mainland. When it reached Kozu Island, it might have died out without reproducing. However, Goodyera similis, a closely related species, also lives […]

China’s Lucrative Orchid Industry Is a Test for the Nation’s Commitment to Conservation

Thursday, September 28th, 2023

China is a hotspot of botanical diversity, and that includes orchids. Many have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, but are being threatened by habitat loss and overcollection. Dozens of species of Dendrobiums are among those collected from the wild. The dried plants are added into teas or soups to help a variety […]

What Drives Orchid Diversity?

Saturday, August 26th, 2023

In Defense of Plants has a great podcast about orchid diversity with Dr. Tatiana Arias, who is a botanist at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. Arias is trying to understand why orchids are so diverse, and what drives their evolution. Orchids boast incredible variety among 30,000 species worldwide. She’s particularly interested in her […]

Turkey’s Endangered Orchids Are Disappearing, One Sip at a Time

Sunday, August 13th, 2023

In Turkey, Greece, and parts of the Middle East, salep is a beloved food. For thousands of years, the roots of local orchids have been used to make salep, which is turned into hot drinks, and also a type of thick ice cream. Almost two centuries ago, novelist Jane Austen described the delicious appeal of […]

Is This Endangered Orchid the Last of Its Kind?

Saturday, July 15th, 2023

Like many orchids, the Long Spurred Angraecum faces an uncertain future. Angraecum longicalcar is one of Madagascar’s beautiful, fascinating, and highly endangered orchids. Climate change, habitat destruction, and poaching of wild plants are terrible threats. In addition, its pollinator may be extinct. While many plants use lots of different pollinators, orchids often specialize for a […]

Lawsuit Launched to Speed Endangered Species Protection for Ghost Orchid

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

Florida’s rare and fascinating Ghost Orchid features in a best-selling book and an Oscar-winning movie starring Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage. But somehow it’s still not listed as an official endangered species in the USA. A lawsuit by three conservation groups aims to fix that. George Gann, executive director of the Institute for Regional Conservation, […]

Orchids’ Ability To Grow on Other Plants Independently Evolved Multiple Times

Saturday, June 10th, 2023

Penn State biologists have determined that orchids evolved the ability to grow on other plants at least 14 times. They studied the genetics of 610 orchid species, representing all five orchid subfamilies. Over two-thirds of orchids are epiphytes, or air plants. They’re not parasites, but grow attached to tree trunks and branches. This gives them […]

Confirming Extinction of the Everglades Orchid

Friday, April 14th, 2023

In this age of habitat destruction, poaching of wild plants, climate change, and pollution, extinction is tragically frequent. However, it can be difficult to know if a species has actually disappeared. For example, nobody has seen the small white flowers of the Everglades Orchid, Govenia floridana, since 1964. Vida Svahnström is an orchid scientist and […]