Myanmar is considered to be a hotspot for Orchid biodiversity, with a current estimate of around 800 species, which is probably somewhat lower than the actual figure. Despite this high level of diversity the Orchids of Myanmar have been little studied in recent decades, due to the country's political isolation and instability. The genus Odontochilus curently contains about 40 species of ground-dwelling Orchids found in moist evergreen forests from the Himalayas across South and Southeast Asia to East Asia and the islands of the Pacific.
In a paper published in the journal PhytoKeys on 2 July 2018, Ye Lwin Aung and Aye Thin Mu of the State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany at the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Xiaohua Jin, also of the State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, and of the Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, describe a new species of Odontochilus from the Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary in Kachin State, Myanmar.
The new species is named Odontochilus putaoensis, meaning 'from Putao', the northernmost town in Myanmar, and the closest to the area where the species was discovered. The species is an upright terrestrial orchid reaching 40-60 cm in height, with a distinctive bright yellow lip to its flowers.
Habit of Odontochilus putaoensis. Ye Lwin Aung et al. (2018).
The species was found growing in a subtropical montane forest at an altitude of about 1500-2000 m above sealevel. Only a single stand of the Orchids was found, comprising about 200 individual plants, but the area where it was found was remote and not considered to be at any immediate risk, so the species is considered to be of Least Concern under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
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