Scientists have discovered a new species of orchid in the Amazonian rainforests of Peru.
SERNANP, Peru’s national parks service, announced that the new species was discovered on Bella Durmiente mountain, a prominent natural feature of Tingo Maria National Park in the Huánuco region of central Peru.
About 240 orchid species are known to occur in Tingo Maria National Park. The new species, which was described to science in a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa last month, was given the scientific name Andinia tingomariana in honor of the park where it was discovered.
“This kind of discovery highlights the natural heritage of the country and demonstrates the good standard of conservation of the park,” Lorenzo Flores, director of the Tingo Maria National Park, said in a statement.
There are 72 other species in the genus Andinia. According to the researchers who described the new orchid, “Species of this genus are confined to the Andes and distributed from northern Colombia to northern Bolivia.” A. tingomariana was found growing epiphytically — meaning it was growing on another plant, but not parasitically — among the mosses and vines on tree trunks in a humid forest at an elevation of 1,285 meters (about 4,216 feet).
The researchers, a team of Peruvian and American botanists, write that the new species “is remarkable for the resemblance of the flowers to those of members of the former genus Salpistele, now part of Stelis.”
Two close relatives of A. tingomariana, A. dielsii and A. pensilis, also resemble species that belong to that former genus so much that they were initially categorized as belonging to Salpistele themselves. “However, A. dielsii and A. pensilis are not phylogenetically closely related to the Salpistele clade of Stelis,” the researchers write.
They add that A. tingomariana bears an even closer resemblance to Salpistele species: “Floral morphology of the new species, Andinia tingomariana, resembles that of the Salpistele group of Stelis, particularly that of Stelis maculata, even more than do those of A. dielsii and A. pensilis.”
The researchers hypothesize that the similar floral morphologies between Salpistele species and the three Andinia species “represent convergent evolution due to similar pollination syndromes.”
As for the conservation status of the newly discovered orchid, the researchers note that A. tingomariana has only been found in one location, a mountain range that runs longitudinally north-south through Tingo María National Park.
“Although the type locality of Andinia tingomariana is in a protected area, Tingo María National Park, the limited number of plants observed and distribution suggest that it may be vulnerable,” they write. “However, until further information on distribution and abundance can be collected it should be listed as Data Deficient according to IUCN criteria.”
• Hernández,, A. G. D., Horna, L. A. O., Godo, L. E. Y., & Wilson, M. (2018). A new species of Andinia (Orchidaceae, Pleurothallidinae) from Huánuco, Peru, and the first Peruvian locality for Andinia schizopogon. Phytotaxa, 361(2), 222-232. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.361.2.7