NEWS
22/11/2011 07:58 GMT | Updated 22/11/2011 08:04 GMT

Bulbophyllum Nocturnum, World's First Night-Flowering Orchid, Discovered By Botanists

Botanists have discovered the first night-flowering orchid known to science.

The species, Bulbophyllum nocturnum, grows on the island of New Britain new Papua New Guinea. It was discovered by Dutch orchid specialist Ed de Vogel.

The newly discovered orchid is the first example of a species whose flowers open at night and shut in the morning. Its flowers last for just one night and it is speculated that the plant is pollinated by midges - although no one knows for sure.

Flowers that open at night are relatively rare, and until now no orchids had ever been found that flowered nocturnally.

In conjunction with de Vogel the species was described by Kew Gardens orchid specialist, André Schuiteman, and Leiden Bulbophyllum expert, Jaap Vermeulen.

André Schuiteman said: “This is another reminder that surprising discoveries can still be made. 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.”