The Bulbophyllum wolongense, identified as a new species of orchid. (Photo/China Daily)
A new species of orchid has been discovered in Sichuan province's Wolong National Nature Reserve, according to a release by the reserve's management bureau on Saturday.
Cheng Yuehong, a senior engineer at the bureau, and a research team led by Hu Guangwan from the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted morphological and DNA molecular analyses on Bulbophyllum wolongense, confirming it as a new plant species.
Due to its unique distribution in the region, it has been identified as a species endemic to Sichuan.
The findings were recently published in the journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability.
Bulbophyllum wolongense is the sixth new plant species discovered and named by researchers since the reserve's plant biodiversity field survey began in 2020.
Cheng and the team discovered the species in February 2021 at an altitude of about 1,600 meters along a cliff in the reserve.
After eight months of observation and specimen collection, the team conducted research on the plant together with the Wuhan Botanical Garden.
"We kept monitoring its growth in its original habitat, looking up references and comparing it with similar species," Cheng said. "After conducting molecular research and discussing it with experts, we finally determined it to be a new species in the Bulbophyllum genus. As it is located in the Wolong National Nature Reserve, we named it Bulbophyllum wolongense."
The orchid grows on tree trunks at altitudes between 1,600 and 1,700 meters. It blooms in September and October and is characterized by yellow flowers consisting of three duck-bill-shaped petals and a purplish-red center.
During field surveys in the Wolong Reserve from 2022 to 2023, the species was found to be growing in three areas. The reserve has since started developing conservation strategies, the bureau said.
Based on extensive investigations of plants in western Sichuan, Wolong is the only known habitat for this species, the bureau said.
Hu Guangwan, the researcher, said that the discovery of the orchid indicates that the plant diversity in Wolong is extremely rich.
"It is clear that conservation efforts have been made to preserve the rare, unique plants in this area over the past 60 years. With the increased attention being given to plant resource surveys, there will be opportunities to discover more new plant species," he said.