Waldor Fall Newsletter

Michael Jacob

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From: Waldor Orchids <williamrobinson@...>
Date: October 12, 2019 at 4:21:04 PM EDT
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Waldor Orchids Fall Newsletter 2019
The show will be on the beautiful grounds of RF Orchids located at 28100 SW 182 Avenue in Homestead, FL. We will have local and international vendors of orchids, orchid supplies and other related vendors. There will be food available for purchase, parking and admittance is free and raffle tickets for sale. Come join Us!
AOS Northeast Judging Center Judges Auction

AOS Northeast Judging Center Judges Auction in Morristown, NJ this December. This has become a fun and anticipated annual event as well as a chance for many orchid friends who normally don't get to see each other often, to catch up. This annual fundraiser helps our judging center raise funds to rent space that allows us to support plant awards for societies, organizations and commercial growers throughout our region. And of course there are the great orchids up for bid!
Rare orchid Irish lady's-tresses spotted at Ceredigion nature reserve
A rare orchid called Irish lady's-tresses has appeared on a Welsh nature reserve.
A small colony of the creamy white flowers were found on Cors Fochno, a peat bog between Borth and the Dyfi estuary in Ceredigion.
The discovery was made at the end of July by a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) staff member.
Mike Bailey of NRW said it was an "astonishing find".
"Wild orchids are well known for long-distance dispersal and unpredictable flowering, they have a short flowering period from mid July to August, and flowering doesn't occur every year," he said.
"Although widespread in north America, in Europe the orchid is confined to a small number of sites in north-west Scotland and Ireland."

Based on genetic studies, experts believe the species may have colonised Ireland from seeds blown across the Atlantic, so wind-blown seeds may account for the orchid appearing in Ceredigion.

Concerns about prevalent orchid viruses

Researchers have investigated the evolution of the two most prevalent orchid viruses using information representing their global distribution. The study revealed that considerable international trade of cultivated orchids has effectively 'homogenized' the genetic diversity of the viruses. In other words, the two viruses have displayed few genetic differences since their first emergence, across countries and host plants.

In a Plants, People, Planet study, researchers investigated the evolution of the two most prevalent orchid viruses using information representing their global distribution. The study revealed that considerable international trade of cultivated orchids has effectively "homogenised" the genetic diversity of the viruses. In other words, the two viruses have displayed few genetic differences since their first emergence, across countries and host plants.

The findings are concerning because these patterns are suggestive of rapid and regular international movement of orchids and their related pathogens.
The rapid global dispersal of viruses not only has the potential to impact the lucrative orchid horticultural industry, it also threatens orchid species in the wild.
"Global trade has opened the doors to regular and rapid movements of both plants and their pathogens. Orchids are a highly threatened family and without better disease screening practice and phytosanitary regulation we may be placing wild populations at risk for unintentional spillover," said lead author Deborah J. Fogell, of the University of Kent, in the UK.

New orchid species from Japan lives on dark forest floor, never blooms
  • Researcher Kenji Suetsugu of Kobe University has found flowering plants of a new species of orchid on Japan’s Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands, now named Gastrodia amamiana.
  • G. amamiana belongs to a group of mycoheterotrophic orchids that live on dark forest floors, do not use photosynthesis to get their nutrients, and steal nutrition from fungi instead. G. amamiana’s flowers likely never open up or bloom.
  • Researchers have already found evidence of tree thinning close to where G. amamiana was discovered, and they worry that logging could dry the soil and consequently the fungi that the orchid depends on.
From Japan’s Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands, researchers have described a new-to-science species of orchid that produces dark brown flowers that likely never bloom.

Kenji Suetsugu of the Kobe University Graduate School of Science, together with independent scientists Hidekazu Morita, Yohei Tashiro, Chiyoko Hara and Kazuki Yamamuro, came across the flower during a flora survey of the islands’ evergreen forests. When they looked at the orchid closely, they found that it belonged to the genus Gastrodia, a group of mycoheterotrophic orchids that don’t use photosynthesis to get their nutrients, instead stealing nutrition from fungi.

Suetsugu, who has been documenting Japan’s mycoheterotrophs and has described new species of such orchids in the past, has named the orchid from Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands Gastrodia amamiana. He described the plant in a new study published in Phytotaxa.
Like many mycoheterotrophs, G. amamiana can be found lurking in the dark understory of forests where sunlight hardly penetrates. Without light, the orchid has evolved to find food without photosynthesis by relying on the network of fungi underneath the forest floor.

It has another peculiar trait: it bears fruit despite flowers that likely never open. Suetsugu posits that the plant probably self-pollinates because it lives on dark forest floors where insect pollinators like bees and butterflies seldom visit.

The act of opening up a flower uses critical resources, and without insect pollinators to open it for, the orchid may have evolved to never bloom, Suetsugu writes.

To date, G. amamiana is known from only two locations, one each on Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima. In both locations, the researchers found some 20 flowering individuals within a dense forest dominated by the evergreen Itajii Chinkapin tree (Castanopsis sieboldii).
The Amami-Oshima forest where the species was found, however, could soon become logged, Suetsugu writes. The researchers have already seen evidence of tree thinning close to where G. amamiana was discovered, and the dry soil that results from this could dry out the fungi that the orchid depends on, he writes.

“These field surveys rely on cooperation from independent scientists, and our resources are limited, meaning that some species may reach extinction without ever being discovered by humans,” Suetsugu said in a statement. “The discovery of G. amamiana highlights the importance of the forests of Amami-Oshima. We hope that revealing these new species will draw more attention to the environmental threat faced by these regions.”

Rare, ‘Critically Imperiled’ Orchid Found In Virginia
The purple fringeless orchid doesn’t really look like the tropical or subtropical orchids most of us are used to seeing. It’s a short plant, usually only about 1-3 feet tall, with a cluster of bright, pinkish-purple flowers jutting out of the top of the plant’s stem like spikes.
It’s also among the rarest orchid species in Virginia, and late last month, a pair of volunteer citizen scientists found four plants of the nearly extinct orchids in Sperryville, Virginia, about 75 miles southwest of D.C.

“I was so elated to find this huge purple orchid, I wanted to do cartwheels in the marsh,” Patty Lane, one of the two volunteers who found the endangered purple flower, said in a press release.
Lane, along with Kate Heneberry, was out searching for orchids as part of a volunteer-powered orchid survey put on by the Changing Landscapes Initiative and the Virginia Working Landscapes — both projects of the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute — along with the North American Orchid Conservation Center. Lane and Heneberry’s finding is the first time the project has ID-ed the rare orchids.

The purple fringeless orchid is ranked as critically imperiled in Virginia, meaning that there are estimated to be fewer than 1,000 plants left across the state, according to lead project scientist Iara Lacher. Lacher says that understanding where the orchids are found and how their populations are changing is like a canary in the coal mine. “If we can identify changes in the forest early on, that’ll help natural resource managers to properly protect the area.”

Joe Guthrie, who’s the field survey coordinator for the project, points out that in addition to being visually striking and attractive, the plants also “form an important link in a web of interconnected relationships in a forest.” Guthrie says that there isn’t much information available on these rare orchids, making a project like this all the more important and necessary. “We don’t know yet what we’re losing when it comes to the rare orchids that are out there,” he says.

The purple fringeless orchid species is declining in the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic area that it’s usually found in, and Smithsonian spokesperson Devin Murphy tells DCist that much of this is due to a loss of the orchid’s habitat. “These orchids need very moist soil, they’re usually found in wetlands,” she says.

Murphy says that by gathering data on where these orchid species are located, the project’s scientists can get a better picture of how Virginia’s habitats are changing, and how these changes are impacting native orchid species in the state. “This is the first time we’ve done an orchid survey, but we’re trying to see if we can find patterns in where the orchids are found and if those patterns can tell us anything about the habitat,” she says.

In addition to the purple fringeless orchid, the project is also trying to identify an additional 63 native Virginia orchid species, 33 of which are labeled as vulnerable or imperiled because of how rare they are.
Lane and Heneberry were trained by Smithsonian scientists on how to ID the different types of orchids and then went out into the field for a practice run before officially starting their surveys. They’re part of a growing trend of volunteers partnering with researchers to gather data and observations that advance scientific knowledge. In D.C., for example, these citizen scientists have conducted research on the cleanliness of the region’s rivers.

This also isn’t the only instance where local citizen scientists have made stumbled across a rare finding—last year, for the first time since 2010, citizen scientists spotted an American eel in a tributary of Rock Creek.
This story has been updated to reflect that the orchid is critically imperiled and to correctly describe the Changing Landscapes Initiative. It has also been updated with additional comment from lead project scientist Iara Lacher. 

Danya AbdelHameid is a DCist contributor. This story originally appeared on DCist.

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