Five new species of orchid found in remote and rebel-infested Bukidnon forest

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Five new orchid species have been discovered in remote regions of Bukidnon on the island of Mindanao.

The striking species in the rebel-torn region of Mindanao have somehow eluded discovery until now.

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Botanist Miguel David de Leon said that wild orchids are rare in the Philippines as people are often known to harvest them to sell at the roadside.

De Leon said he discovered the plants while trekking the mountains of Bukidnon province. He added that their late discovery could be linked to the ongoing rebel insurgency, and the sheer isolation of their location.

Details of the specimens will be published in the German OrchideenJournal.

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Naming of the Orchids was assisted by Jim Cootes, an Australian taxonomist, and Mark Arcebal Naive, a Filipino research associate, alongside De Leon. Together they named some vivid yellow blooms Epicrianthes Aquino, to honour President Benigno Aquino III, whose family used the colour yellow in political rallies.

Other examples discovered include a pure white and red-lipped Dendrobium, a dark red Epicrianthes, and a green slipper orchid with red stripes.

Jim Cootes has written three books on Philippine Orchids, and said there were more species awaiting discovery.

“We need to preserve what is left because the variation within the different species is so high that it is almost priceless,” he said. “The mountains throughout the archipelago need to be preserved.”

The Philippines is listed among the 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world today. US-based Conservation International says that the country is heavily threatened by deforestation and other pressures.

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