Big find in Borneo

The Malaysia Times reports that a entire region of Borneo has just been explored, yielding unusual plants and animals that are new to science, including orchids.

This bonanza was discovered in an unlikely area covered in ultramafic forests; the soil is rocky, drains quickly, and contains toxic metals, and the terrain is prone to frequent landslides and floods.

…the expedition unveiled some fascinating findings. Researchers had initially forecasted low biodiversity in this low nutrient environment but found many exciting specimens,including several species of orchids and land snails believed to be new to science.

Two species of rheophytic (rheophytic : growing beside and periodically flooded by streams) orchids of the genus Malaxis and Appendicula which are rooted to river rocks were discovered; these are believed to be able to withstand flashfloods.

Other fascinating plants include the rare Slipper Orchid Paphiopedilum hookerae volonteanum,the endemic Borneodendron aenigmaticum and various species of the carnivorous pitcher and ant plants.

“Some of the plants found are endemic, meaning that they are confined to ultramafic soil only, mainly due to their adaptation to the area’s unique ecosystem,” said eminent orchid and herb expert Anthony Lamb.

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