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Night-blooming Orchid

Night Stalker Top 10 New Species of 2012

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(Photo credit left: Jaap Vermeulen; right: Andre Schuiteman)

Name: Bulbophyllum nocturnum

Common Name: Night-blooming Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae

How it made the Top 10: The discovery of this new species is significant because it has the first night-blooming flowers recorded among the more than 25,000 known species of orchids. Within the orchid family, its genus (Bulbophyllum) is spectacularly diverse with about 2,000 named species. The slender bizarre-looking flowers of Bulbophyllum nocturnum are rather small and start to open around 10pm but close the next morning, lasting only about 12 hours. This new species is known from a single plant and may be at risk due to habitat loss from logging practices in its native New Guinea.

Etymology: nocturnum from the Latin word meaning “at night” to reflect the orchid’s night-time blooming.

Type Material: Holotype - Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, Papua New Guinea National Herbarium; isotypes – Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and National Herbarium of the Netherlands.

Type Locality: New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Reference: Schuiteman, A., Vermeulen, J.J., De Vogel, E. & Vogel, A. (2011). Nocturne for an unknown pollinator: first description of a night-flowering orchid (Bulbophyllum nocturnum). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 167, 344 – 350.