Six new orchid species have been discovered in southwest China's Yunnan Province and Xizang Autonomous Region, according to the Kunming Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The findings, made by researchers from the institute, have been published recently in the journals PhytoKeys and Nordic Journal of Botany.
During several field surveys in Yunnan and Xizang in recent years, the researchers collected specimens of six previously unidentified orchid species.
Following a review of the literature, morphological studies of herbarium specimens and plastid phylogenomic analyses, they concluded that these specimens are new to the genera Neottia, Papilionanthe, Gastrochilus and Cylindrolobus.
According to the study, the Himalayan and the Hengduan Mountains are iconic biodiversity hotspots of global significance. However, the species diversity of this region remains inadequately understood.
The early floristic accounts of Xizang in 1987 recorded only 191 species in 64 genera in the Orchidaceae family. However, a number of new species were reported over the past decades, increasing the number of orchids in Xizang to 110 genera with 491 species in the latest checklist.
"Long-term and in-depth field investigations are still required to address the urgent challenge of conserving rare species in these mountainous regions as their habitats undergo rapid changes," said the study.
The Orchidaceae is one of the largest families of angiosperms in the world, with approximately 190 genera and 1,600 species in China. The Himalayan and the Hengduan Mountains are particularly rich in orchids.(Xinhua)