Life News

Humble Orchids’ Contribution to Papua New Guinea’s Biological Diversity

By Joanita Nonwo – EMTV Online


The island of New Guinea hosts the third largest rainforest in the world; not bad for the second largest island in the world lying in-between the Pacific Ocean to its right, with the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to its left.

Papua New Guinea finds itself lucky to be situated on the eastern side of the island, boasting of its rare species of flora and fauna – a diverse biological hotspot teeming with rich life of plants and animals, both on land and under the sea.

The United Nations have marked May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity, to create awareness and to promote good practices to ensure many of the planets’ endangered species of plants and animals do not go completely extinct because of unsustainable practices.

This year the day marks 25 years since its inception with the theme, ‘Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity’.

“Reducing deforestation and land degradation and enhancing carbon stocks in forests, drylands, rangelands and croplands are needed for mitigating climate change. And protecting the biodiversity of forests and watersheds supports clean and plentiful water supplies.

These are just some of the benefits of biodiversity. Yet, despite this understanding, biodiversity loss continues around the globe. The answer is to intensify efforts and build on successes,” the message from the UN General Secretary stated.

The Convention for Biological Diversity has three main goals:

  • the global conservation of biodiversity
  • its sustainable use and the
  • equitable sharing of its benefits.

Achieving sustainable development through meeting these goals is important for a sustainable life on earth.

Papua New Guinea is home to a rough estimate of 200, 000 plant and animal species, where an estimate of more than half of the different species of both plants and animals are yet to be scientifically named.

Among the countless rare animals and plants native to Papua New Guinea, are vast species of orchids.

Papua New Guinea alone has 13% of the world’s orchid species, making it the country with the highest number of recorded species than any other in the world!

PNG’s orchids can be found almost anywhere, from the hot mangrove swamps and beach forests to the chilly grasslands above the timberline on the highest mountains. In the misty upland forests their abundance and diversity can be staggering.

According to the PNG Orchid Society, there are about 3000 known registered species of orchids with about 2000 to 3000 or more species yet to be discovered!

In 2011, a Dutch researcher discovered Bulbophyllum Nocturnum, a new species of orchid found on the New Britain Island. The remarkable thing about this specie is that it only blooms in the night – making it the world’s first ever ‘night flowering orchid’ out of about 25, 000 other species – let us pause to take note that this is yet again a specie native only to Papua New Guinea, nowhere else in the world!

At the 2018 17th Orchid Spectacular Show hosted by the PNG Orchid Society, it was announced that two new species were discovered in Western Highlands Province. These orchids among many others recently discovered were yet to be named.

All while a new hybrid orchid, Dendrobium Iasiathera, was created by cross breeding 4 different orchids from Papua New Guinea; the orchid, named as ‘Dendrobium APEC PNG 2018’ – is the iconic plant for the APEC summit which PNG will be playing host to in November.

2 diagrams showing the different generations of Dendrobium APEC PNG 2018’s ancestry line from the orchid reference website,

Now that’s yet again another orchid added onto the PNG orchid collection, contributing to the overall unique biodiversity of Papua New Guinea!


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