Researchers linked to the University of Guam have helped name and describe a species of orchid found only in Guam and Rota.
The orchid known to local botanists for decades but never formally described, is known as Bulbophyllum raulersoniae, according to a university press release.
This species of orchid is finally named posthumously in honor of Lynn Raulerson, longtime curator of the University of Guam herbarium, who first reported the taxon as unique.
The description of the new orchid species can be found in an article recently published in Orchideen Journal by the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at the University of Guam.
Benjamin E. Deloso, a horticulturist at Missouri Botanical Garden who earned his master’s degree in environmental science from UOG in 2020; Charles A. “CJ” Paulino, graduate student in environmental science at UOG; and Jim Cootes, an Australian taxonomist, are the authors of the description of the new orchid species.
The authors noted in their paper that due to the historical geographic distribution of where the orchid species is found, it may be reduced due to habitat loss.
The authors recommended that the International Union for Conservation of Nature assess the species as “endangered”.
Researchers said the Lamlam-Alifan Ridge in the southern part of Guam is a refuge for this species.
Researchers have determined that it is distinct from other species in the Mariana Islands. It is smaller and grows on host plants, such as pandanus. The plants produce a solitary flower of about 1 cm.
“Going up Mount Lamlam several times to make our observations made me appreciate the importance of the habitat as a whole, not just the species we’re studying,” Paulino said in the press release.
“The ecosystem along the Lamlam-Alifan Ridge is truly a special place containing some of Guam’s most interesting plants and animals. I hope this study will encourage others to conserve and restore our natural habitat throughout the world. benefit of all who call Guam home,” Paulino added.
The Mariana Islands are home to 30 reported orchid species, of which four are considered endemic to the archipelago and seven are endemic to Micronesia. The new species adds to the 2,200 known species in the world of the genus Bulbophyllum.