Orchid (Phalaenopsis javanica)

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Phalaenopsis javanica flowers
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Orchid fact file

Orchid description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderOrchidales
FamilyOrchidaceae
GenusPhalaenopsis (1)

This moth-orchid is an epiphyte, which has small, creamy white flowers (2). There are many glossy leaves and a long flower stalk (or inflorescence) that may occasionally be branched (5). The side sepals are highly concave in shape and have the appearance of a cup containing the petals and lip of the flower (2). Both the petals and sepals are fairly translucent white with brown stripes, whereas the middle of the lip is a deep purple colour (2).

Size
Leaf width: 10 cm (2)
Inflorescence length: up to 25 cm (2)
Leaf length: 22 cm (2)
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Orchid biology

The small flowers on each inflorescence open simultaneously and have a violet scent (5).

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Orchid range

The specific name of javanica reflects the historic range of this orchid, which is endemic to Java, in the Indonesian archipelago (2). It is feared however, that this species no longer occurs in the wild, and only a few plants can be found in collections (3).

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Orchid habitat

This species was briefly rediscovered in the wild in the 1960s, when it was found growing amid montane forest and coffee plantations at between 700 and 1,000 metres above sea level (3).

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Orchid status

Thought to be extinct in the wild (3), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

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Orchid threats

Phalaenopsis javanica was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1960s. Tragically, the news of the rediscovery was accompanied by zealous over-collection and within just two years this orchid was once again lost from the wild (3).

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Orchid conservation

Efforts have been made to discover additional wild populations of Phalaenopsis javanica but these have so far proved unsuccessful (3). A few plants survive in cultivation, such as in Bogor Botanical Gardens in West Java and this may be the only factor preventing this orchid from becoming extinct (3).

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Authentication

Authenticated (02/06/03) by Dr Phillip Cribb, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Epiphyte
A plant that uses another plant, typically a tree, for its physical support, but which does not draw nourishment from it.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
Sepals
A floral leaf (collectively comprising the calyx of the flower) that forms the protective outer layer of a flower bud.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2003)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Christenson, E.A. (2001) Phalenopsis: a Monograph. Timber Press, Oregon.
  3. Hágsater, E. and Dumont, V. (1996) Orchids: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Orchid Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  4. CITES (September, 2009)
    http://www.cites.org
  5. Sweet, H.R. (1980) The Genus Phalaenopsis. Orchid Digest, California.
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Image credit

Phalaenopsis javanica flowers  
Phalaenopsis javanica flowers

© Phillip J. Cribb / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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