New Japanese locks of hair found in private gardens and balconies! – Teach daily

It is extremely rare for new plant species to be discovered in Japan, a country where plants have been extensively studied and documented. Recently, though, Professor SUETSUGU Kenji and colleagues discovered a stunning new species of orchid whose pink petals bear a striking resemblance to glasswork (Fig. 1). Since it was initially spotted near Hachijo Island in Tokyo Prefecture, the new species is so named Spiranthes hachijoensis. Interestingly, they can be found in familiar environments such as lawns and gardens, and even in private gardens and on balconies. This research suggests that other new species may be hiding in common spaces, eliminating the need to venture into remote tropical rainforests to discover them.

sex speranthes It includes a captivating and fascinating variety of orchids, which display a range of distinctive morphological features. The flowers are usually small and white or pink, and are arranged in a spiral around a central stem, hence the name “ladies’ tufts”. speranthes It is the most popular orchid in Japan and has been cherished for centuries, even appearing in Manyushu, Japan’s oldest extant poetry anthology. For a long time, it was believed that speranthes On the Japanese mainland they form a single species: Spiranthes australis. However, while conducting extensive field surveys focused on the Japanese language speranthes samples, Suetsugu came across several anonymous groups speranthes Taxa with bald flower stems, in mainland Japan (Fig. 1). Anonymous rating often grows along with it S. australis But it flowers about a month earlier, which leads to reproductive isolation between the two species. on condition S. australis Characterized by a hairy flower stem, the hairless individuals may represent a neglected species. Thus, Suetsugu and colleagues embarked on a comprehensive, multi-pronged, ten-year study to determine precisely how these plants differ. Samples were collected from various locations in Japan, Taiwan and Laos.

By integrating the results of DNA analysis, morphology, field observations, and reproductive biology, Suetsugu and colleagues discovered that it is a cryptic species that shows a high level of molecular divergence, albeit with minimal morphological differentiation (Fig. 2). The fact that the “common” speranthes It is actually divided into two types that are likely to arouse the curiosity of the general public. The discovery of new flowering plant species in Japan is a very rare occurrence as extensive research has been done on the flora of this region. However, the new species mentioned here can be found growing in common environments such as parks and lawns. Some of the specimens used to describe this new species were collected from private gardens and balconies. This discovery of new species hidden in public places underscores the need for continuous exploration, even in seemingly unnoticed places!

This research was conducted by a multi-institutional team of researchers, including Professor Suetsugu (Graduate School of Science, Kobe University), Professor SUYAMA Yoshihisa (Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University), and Dr. Tian-Chuan Hsu (Taiwan Forestry Research Institute) . The paper was published online in the Journal of Plant Research on March 17, 2023.

Journal information

Spiranthes hachijoensis (Orchidaceae), a new species within S. sinensis Complex species in Japan, based on morphological, phylogenetic, and ecological evidence.
DOI: 10.1007 / s10265-023-01448-6
Kenji Sutsugu, Shun K. Hirota, Hiroshi Hayakawa, Shuhei Fujimori, Masayuki Ishibashi, Tian Chuan Hsu, Yoshihisa Suyama
Journal of Plant Research

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