Orchid (Vanda javierae)

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Vanda javierae in flower
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Orchid fact file

Orchid description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderOrchidales
FamilyOrchidaceae
GenusVanda (1)

One of the world’s most impressive orchid species (3), the beautiful, delicate and highly threatened Vanda javierae bears up to eight snow white flowers. Each flower hasan anchor-shaped lower petal (the lip or ‘labellum’), with pale pink and brown markings at the base (2). Typically the most ornamental petal of the orchid, the labellum serves to attract insects and may also act as a landing platform (4).

Vanda orchids typically grow upright, and bear long, narrow leaves, which are partially folded upwards (2). Vanda javierae was discovered in the 1980s (3), but as yet there is little specific information on this flowering plant, most probably due to its remote location (1).

Size
Flower diameter: 6 cm (2)
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Orchid biology

There are few details about the biology of the rare Vanda javierae, but like other orchids it is likely to have a rather complex lifecycle that relies on the presence of a fungus species (5).

Orchids produce hundreds to thousands of tiny, ‘dust-like’ seeds (6). These seeds are so small that they lack an ‘endosperm’, a substance found on the seeds of many other plants which provides the energy required for germination. Instead, a fungus provides the seed with the nutrients it requires to germinate and mature. Only the seeds which are dispersed near enough to the fungus will germinate. The relationship between the orchid and the fungus continues as the orchid grows, with the fungus living in the orchid’s roots, assisting in the uptake of moisture and nutrients (7).

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Orchid range

Vanda javierae occurs on Calayan Island, a small island in the northern region of the Philippines (1).

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Orchid habitat

Vanda javierae grows in primary and secondary forest in moist lowlands (1), where it favours cool temperatures and indirect sunlight (2).

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Orchid status

Vanda javierae is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Orchid threats

The biggest threat to Vanda javierae is the loss of its natural habitat, as forest on Calayan Island is cleared for agriculture and housing (1). Over-collection of this orchid for local and international trade poses an additional threat (1), as it is prized by orchid collectors for its beauty and rarity (3).

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Orchid conservation

Vanda javierae has been successfully propagated from seed (3), which will hopefully lessen the demand for wild specimens.

Unfortunately, the area inhabited by Vanda javierae is not protected (1). Protection of its habitat is one conservation measure that has been recommended for this orchid species, along with managing harvesting and trade in the species, and raising awareness of its perilous status (1).

Extensive studies of Vanda javierae and its lifecycle are also needed (8), which will help identify the most important measures required to protect this spectacular orchid.

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Find out more

Find out more about orchid conservation:

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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

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Germination
The beginning of growth, usually following a period of dormancy and in response to favourable conditions. For example, the sprouting of a seedling from a seed.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Banks, D.P. (2005) Orchid Grower's Companion: Cultivation, Propagation, and Varieties. Timber Press, Oregon.
  3. Banks, D.P. (2003) Handy Pocket Guide to Orchids. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd, Singapore.
  4. Squire, D. (2008) The Orchid Specialist. New Holland Publishers Ltd, Cape Town.
  5. Cribb, P. (2007) Why are Orchids Important? Orchid Specialist Group SSC / IUCN, Cambridge, UK. Available at:
    http://www.orchidconservation.org/osg/PubArt/Art000-En.html
  6. Mauseth, J.D. (2003). Botony: An Introduction to Plant Biology. 3rd Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Massachusetts.
  7. Tibbs, M. (2008) Orchids: A Practical Guide to Care and Cultivation. New Holland Publishers Ltd, London.
  8. Cullina, W. (2004). Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World’s Most Exotic Plants. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
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Image credit

Vanda javierae in flower  
Vanda javierae in flower

© Martin Guenther

Martin Guenther
http://www.flickr.com/photos/epicphals

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