Saturday, November 29, 2014

Borneo Orchids – huge flowering diversity

ORCHID live in all continents of the world except Antarctica. They are found in deserts, in grasslands, in swamps, in the mountains or in the lowland rain forests. Their flowers range in size from little more than a pin-head to huge inflorescences more than a metre in length.

They live as epiphytes in the tops of the trees, as small plants in the leaf litter on the forest floor or as tall stems coming up from the ground. Some species have lost their leaves entirely, photosynthesising by their roots, others exist on the decaying leaves and twigs of the forest floor as mushrooms do, and some have even gone underground!

Largest Family of Flowering Plants in the World!

There is no other family of flowering plants that has such a huge diversity in its flowers and lifestyle and worldwide there are more than twenty-five thousand species of orchids – the largest family of flowering plants in the whole world!

World Hotspot of Diversity About 1,700 wild orchids are found on the island of Borneo. One thousand three hundred of these are found in Sabah and almost 900 of those species live on Mt. Kinabalu. This makes the Kinabalu Park, covering 754 sq kms, one of the richest places for orchid diversity, per unit area, in the entire world!

To give these figures some perspective, the whole of the continent of Europe, (an area of almost 9 million sq. kms, and more than 100 times the size of Sabah), has fewer orchids, (875), than are found in the Kinabalu Park alone! No wonder Mt Kinabalu is one of the top hotspots for plant diversity, (not just orchids), on this planet!

Over 100 New Species of Orchids in Borneo!

What’s more, over one hundred NEW species of orchids, just for Borneo, have been discovered and described within the last ten years!

Borneo Orchid Society Twenty years ago, the Borneo Orchid Society was formed by a group of enthusiasts keen to know more about Borneo’s orchids and keen to encourage more interest in this group of wonderful plants that have driven men almost mad with desire!

They decided that one of the ways in which they could this was to hold regular orchid shows. Orchid shows cost money however, and, as it happens, the last show was in 2010.

This year though, there is another show, so if you didn’t get the chance to see it on Friday or Saturday, make the time to pop along to the KK Community Hall behind the Sabah Tourism office for a lovely display of colour and form – this is the last day!

Insect Pollinators Evolved with the Orchids Orchids are amazing not just for the number of species, but for the variety of shape and form in their flowers.