· 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.
· 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.