New species of orchid native to Singapore discovered in Bukit Timah Reserve

New species of orchid native to Singapore discovered in Bukit Timah Reserve

Singapore Botanic Gardens researchers discover Nervilia singaporensis, an orchid native to Singapore
An endemic species of orchid, Nervilia singaporensis, was discovered in July 2019. (Photo: Matti Niissalo/National Parks Board)  

SINGAPORE: A new species of orchid native and endemic to Singapore was discovered last year by researchers from the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The species, Nervilia singaporensis, was found in July 2019 at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, said the National Parks Board (NParks) in a news release on Friday (Jun 19). 

The genus Nervilia was, until recently, thought to be locally extinct in Singapore, with the last sighting in 1889.

With this discovery, Singapore now has five species of endemic plants, with four existing only in the nature reserves. 

Researchers discover a new species of orchid native to Singapore
Based on field surveys conducted at nature reserves and areas, this species has been found to occur only in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore. (Photo: Matti Niissalo/National Parks Board)

The Nervilia singaporensis has a unique flower shape that is oblong with a truncate tip and flowers that never open. This means it must self-pollinate in order to reproduce.

This species, which grows up to 9cm tall, is "considered highly endangered at national and global levels" because it only produces a low quantity of seeds, making it difficult to propagate, said NParks. 

READ: NParks to give packets of vegetable seeds to households to encourage home gardening

Before the discovery of the Nervilia singaporensis, Singapore had four species of endemic plants comprising of the Singapore Ginger (Zingiber singapurense), Hanguana rubinea, Hanguana triangulata and Splachnobryum temasekensis.

"The discovery of Nervilia singaporensis shows that there is still unknown biodiversity to find and study, even in heavily urbanised Singapore," said Mr David Middleton, Coordinating Director of Research and Conservation at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

"As such, continued efforts in documenting and learning about the richness of our habitats is crucial to protect them and their biodiversity."

Source: CNA/lk(ta)

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