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The newly discovered Phragmipedium

NO.4@Phrag. kovachii 020620

@A new species of Phragmipedium was described by Mr. Michael Kovach and was described by Dr. John T. Atwood and Stig Dalstrom of Selby Gardens.@This information was supplied by Miss Ilene Denton as FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2002
Miss Ilene Denton, Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida@
Media Contact: Ilene Denton, (941) 366-5731, ext. 267

SELBY GARDENS IDENTIFIES SPECTACULAR NEW ORCHID SPECIES FROM PERU

Research scientists in the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Orchid Identification Center are jubilant about a spectacular new species of Peruvian orchid - Phragmipedium kovachii - which last week they were the first to describe for the botanical world.

Phragmipedium kovachii is twice as big as other members of the
Phragmipedium genus, covering the palm of an average personfs hand. It boasts vivid flowers that range in color from pinkish to dark purple. (The typical Phragmipedium is a much drabber green or brown.)

The species was discovered by and named for Michael Kovach, a horticulturist from western Virginia who has been involved in sustainable agriculture efforts with villagers in northeastern Peru. Kovach brought a dried, pressed specimen of the plant to the Orchid Identification Center on June 5, where it was described by John T. Atwood and Stig Dalstrom of Selby Gardens, with assistance from Ricardo Fernandez of the Museo de Historia Natural in Lima. The findings were published last Wednesday, June 12, in the Gardensf scientific journal, Selbyana.

gOut of the thousands of orchids to have been discovered in the past 100 years, this is either the most spectacular or one of the six most spectacular, depending on who you talk to,h says John Beckner, curator of the Gardens Orchid Identification Center, who was involved in developing the scientific description.

Beckner and Dr. Wesley Higgins, Director of the Orchid Identification Center, say that only the OICfs description of Phragmipedium besseae in 1981 was as great a triumph for Selby Gardens. But, while its vivid orangy-red color was a sensational find, the Phragmipedium besseae was much smaller than this new species. gThis has got to be one of the most important plant discoveries for Selby Gardens and for the entire orchid world, in the past 100 years,h says Beckner. gIt is going to open up a whole new line of orchid hybridizing.h

In the botanical world, the institution and author that describe a new species will have their names forever linked with that species. The discovery of a new species starts a scientific race to publication where the winner earns the right to name the species. The authorfs name gets carried along and the publication (in this case, Selbyana) goes along with the plant forever. The pressed and dried plant specimen itself was returned to the country of origin: the Museo de Historia Natural in Lima, Peru.

Selby Gardens has the largest concentration of American Orchid Society certified taxonomists of any institution in the world. The Gardensf OIC describes perhaps a dozen or more new species each year, and identifies hundreds more. Beckner says that gbig showy orchids like the Phragmipedium kovachii are few and far between.h

Beckner says that when he gave a report about the new species to a meeting of the Florida West Coast Orchid Society in Clearwater last week, git was boom - people got very excited. They kept saying, eWow!f eWow!.f

Phrag. kocachii

The flower of Phrag. kocachii

The photo and painying, copyright @ Selby Gardens

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