Orchid (Renanthera bella)

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Renanthera bella flowers
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Orchid fact file

Orchid description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderOrchidales
FamilyOrchidaceae (1)
GenusRenanthera

This epiphytic orchid is a small herb that bears beautiful flowers; alluded to by the specific name of bella (2). Aerial roots hang down from the platform upon which the plant is situated, the orchid’s stem is covered with dead greyish-brown leaves below and is leafy above (4). The flower stalk, or inflorescence, is horizontal or drooping and may carry up to 25 delicate red flowers. The sepals and petals of the flower are narrow, yellowish-cream below but with many pink or crimson blotches above (2). The lip petal is fleshy with three lobes and it is also marked with dark red blotches (2).

Size
Length: 75 cm (2)
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Orchid biology

The spectacular bright flowers appear in February and March (2). Epiphytes use trees for support, allowing them to be situated above the darkness of the rainforest floor.

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Orchid range

Endemic to Sabah in Borneo, Renanthera bella is known only from Mount Kinabalu (2).

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Orchid habitat

These orchids are usually positioned low on the trunks of Gymnostoma sumatrana trees (2), in rainforest that is between 400 and 1,200 metres above sea level (4).

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Orchid status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

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Orchid threats

These highly attractive orchids have suffered from massive over-collection and are now extremely rare in the wild (2).

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Orchid conservation

These orchids are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which restricts trade in wild plants of this attractive species (3). This orchid is also found within Mount Kinabalu National Park where it receives a degree of protection (4).

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Epiphytic
A plant that uses another plant, typically a tree, for its physical support, but which does not draw nourishment from it.
Herb
A small, non-woody, seed bearing plant in which all the aerial parts die back at the end of each growing season.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of the plant, which bears flowers (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
Sepals
A floral leaf (collectively comprising the calyx of the flower) that forms the protective outer layer of a flower bud. (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2003) www.redlist.org
  2. Chan, C.L., Lamb, A., Shim, P.S., and Wood, J.J. (1994) Orchids of Borneo, The Sabah Society, Borneo.
  3. CITES (February, 2003) www.cites.org
  4. Wood, J.J. (1981) Three New Orchids from Sabah. Bulletin, Sabah Orchid Society, 11 (2+3): 1 - 7.
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Image credit

Renanthera bella flowers  
Renanthera bella 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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