The Regional Research and Development Agency of West Papua Province published the results of a recent study which named Papua Island as the region with the richest biodiversity in the world. The world’s largest tropical island has 16% more plant diversity than Madagascar.
There are 13,634 plant species grouped into 1,742 genera and 264 families have been proven to come from Papua Island (Camara-Leret et al., 2020). On September 2020, a new type of orchids has been added from Sorong Regency, West Papua, namely Dendrobium sagin Saputra & Schuit (Saputra et al., 2020). The addition of this new species is good news for all of us, especially for Papua and Indonesia.
The Discovery of The New Orchid Type
This new type of orchid was discovered by Dwi Suratman, an Orchid Observer from Sorong Regency, West Papua. He found the orchid in a fallen tree and then rescued it. At that time, the orchid was identified as Dendrobium coeloglossum Schltr. Only in May 2018, Reza Saputra (PEH specializing in orchids) re-identified as a different species from D. coeloglossum and suspected it as a new species.
After that, the process of discussion and further research was accomplished with fellow researchers from the Indonesian Biological Generation Foundation (Wendy A Mustaqim), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Destario Metusala), and the Royal Botanic Garden Kew (André Schuiteman). After a careful examination process with some related literature, comparison with herbarium collections, and examination of all the proctologists of the Dendrobium section of Fugacia, it was concluded that this type of orchid is a new species.
Dendrobium sagin has special characteristics that are not discovered in other types of orchids in the Fugacia section, namely a structure resembling thick hair on the lip of the flower or labellum (lip).
Section Fugacia is one of the rare orchid sections found in Papua. In Papua this section only consists of two species, namely Dendrobium coeloglossum and Dendrobium lacteum. However, with the publication of the Dendrobium sagin species, there are a total of three types of orchids that are included in the Fugacia section.
The name “sagin” comes from the Moi language which means hair. As one of respect for the Moi Tribe in West Papua and the introduction of the language and the Moi Tribe itself to the international world.
Dendrobium sagin is similar to Dendrobium lacteum in labelum shape. However, it differs in petal and sepal shape, as well as erect hair-like projections on the lip disc. Also, it has a yellow flower at the base and white at the tip.
D. sagin is found in lowland tropical rain forests in semi-open habitats. D. sagin flowers are in full bloom around 03.00 AM, begin to wither around 11.00 PM, start to close around 01.00 PM, and close completely at 04.00 PM.
The New Type Orchid Manuscript Writing
The process of writing a new type of manuscript starts from the end of 2018 until the middle of 2020. In addition, re-exploration has also been accomplished at the location of the discovery of the species, starting from early 2019 until early 2020.
This was done to determine the population size of D. sagin in nature. Based on Dwi Suratman’s information and exploration of D. sagin in the field, only 9 individuals were discovered spread into 2 populations.
From the data obtained, the AOO (Area of Occupancy) and EOO (Extent of Occurrence) values were determined which resulted in the conservation status of “Critically Endangered (CR)”. However, to know the population and conservation status of D. sagin in nature, further exploration must be accomplished with a wider scope of study.
With the discovery of this new orchid in West Papua, it further strengthens the belief that the jungles of Indonesia still contain a lot of biological wealth that has not been revealed by science. However, the biodiversity is also in competition with challenges or threats to forest sustainability, especially in the biodiversity center areas.