The worlds first night blooming Orchid has been discovered, albeit accidentally, in Papa New Guinea (btw, did you know I used to live in Papa New Guinea?).
Bulbophyllum nocturnun is the only night-flowering Orchid out of over 25,000 known species. Don’t fall asleep early if you want a good view of this flower as it blooms for one night only.
Originally this plant had researchers stumped. It would grow buds, lovely healthy buds, and when it looked like the buds were about to bloom researchers would arrive the next morning only to see them shriveled up and dead. Dutch researcher Ed de Vogel, took one of the plants home with him one evening to discover what was happening to the buds. Much to his surprise and delight he discovered the orchid bloomed after 10pm, by morning however the bloom had lived it’s lifetime.
Kew Gardens orchid specialist, Andre Schuiteman, and Bulbophyllum expert Jaap Vermeulenof the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, then teamed up with de Vogel to investigate and describe the new species. “This is another reminder that surprising discoveries can still be made,” Schuiteman said. “But it is a race against time to find species like this that only occur in primeval tropical forests. As we all know, such forests are disappearing fast. It is therefore increasingly important to obtain funding for the fieldwork required to make such discoveries”.
It’s not yet known why this particular Orchid blooms at night but it is speculated that the plants pollinators (possibly midges) are nocturnal. Only a small number of plant species flower overnight; The Queen of the Night Cactus, the Midnight Horror Tree and Night Blooming Jasmine. Never before has this behaviour been documented amongst Orchids.
This newly discovered species belongs to a group of plants well known for their bizarre flowers. Flowers that quite often resemble leggy insects, hairy spiders, intricate sea creatures and often have thin filaments that mover erratically in the breeze, possibly to attract insects. Click here to read the original story and for photo credits.