Zee Media Bureau\Philaso G Kaping
New Delhi: Scientists have rediscovered Europe’s rarest orchid on one of the nine islands that constitute the Azores archipelago off the coast of Portugal, according to a new study.
The researchers from Britain and Azores set out to identify the orchid species on the archipelago and understand their origin. They found not one but three endemic species, including two that are newly recognized.
“The Macaronesian islands represent an excellent crucible for exploring speciation,” the authors said. “This dominantly phenotypic study complements a separate genotypic study, together designed to identify and circumscribe Platanthera species (butterfly-orchids) on the Azores, and to determine their geographic origin(s) and underlying speciation mechanism(s).”
The new species, Platanthera azorica, was first recorded in 1883 by a German explorer Karl Hochstetter but was not recognised as a separate species.
The researchers also found that orchids on the islands may have originated from southwest Europe rather than North America.
The findings have been published in the open-access journal PeerJ.