Revealing the Refined Beauty of West Papua’s Orchids

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West Papua Is Known For Being The Epicenter Of World Biodiversity. This Region Is A Home To Almost 2,000 Species Of Orchids In Indonesia.

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The jungles of West Papua are home to a wide variety of endemic plants, with orchids being the many of them. According to a record, nearly 2,000 orchids in Indonesia live in this Land of Cendrawasih. Of course, we are not going to discuss all of them. In this post, we are going to reveal the beauty of the seven already discovered Papuan endemic orchids.

Stuberi Orchid (Dendrobium lasianthera)

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While it is originated in Papua, the cultivation was only started in 1934. Wilhelm Stuber, a German explorer, was the one who discovered this species. In order to honor his service, the orchid was named after him and is popularly known in Indonesia, particularly Papua, as the Stuberi Orchid.

The Stuberi Orchid still has a correlation with two other orchids, Larat and Suleri. Much like its predecessors, this species comes with a sturdy stem that can reach up to 3 meters. Its leaves are in oval shapes with a length of approximately 15 cm and generally appear circling around the stem.

More than ten flowers can grow in just one stem. If you look at it attentively, you will see that the flowers are in a star shape, sometimes in reverse position. This is what differentiates Stuber Orchid from others apart from its purplish petals.

Kribo Orchid (Dendrobium spectabile)

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This species is locally known as Kribo Orchid, meaning frizzy, reflecting the strange curls of its petals’ tips. It grows high on trees in the dense jungle of Papua, and from afar, it looks more like aliens than actual flowers. 

The sepals and petals have an average length of 5 cm with a relatively fine texture. If you take a closer look at it, you will find how its edges are wrinkled and twisted in yellow or pale green with purplish veins. 

Like other endemic orchids in West Papua, this flower has an appealing labellum shape that appears like a violin in white color at the base and yellowish at its ends. In addition to these two colors, purple or red often appears on the lips of this orchid. Being able to see the beauty of this orchid in its original habitat would surely be a wonderful delight. 

Iron Orchid (Dendrobium violaceoflavens)

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The stem of this orchid species appears sturdy, and the locals call it Iron Orchid. This flower is widely grown in the northern part of Papua. It’s also often used cross parent in which some of the hybrid species include Arcuatum, Morgenster, Medusa, and Phyllis.

The height of this flower can reach somewhere between 60 and 40 cm. Its shiny green leaves circle around them with attractive oval, curved edges. One stalk of Iron Orchid can even grow more than eight flowers in green petals with purple pistils.

While it’s classified as protected plants in West Papua, people are still allowed to purchase them. Obviously, the price to own this exotic flower is not in everyone’s budget. Even so, it won’t hinder orchid collectors from spending large sums of money to have and cultivate this beauty on their own.

Antelope Orchid (Dendrobium antennatum)

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The orchid is usually called ‘antiloopjes‘ by the Dutch because of its shape that, at first glance, resembles the horn of an antelope. It is commonly found in the northern and southern parts of Papua. 

  1. van Bodegom in the book Orchideen even explained that Antelope Orchid could also be located around Sorong, Raja Ampat, and Waigeo. Its natural habitat is on wooden trees, which are not far from the beach with a lot of shade.

While it’s a protected Papua orchid, it can be cultivated as a domestic plant. You can have this flower by attaching it to a piece of wood, wrapping it with a palm fiber robe, or planting it in a pot with chopped fern planting media. One of the perks of planting this flower is that it blooms all season, and its buds release sweet fragrances.

Blue Orchid (Dendrobium azureum)

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Waigeo is an island in the Land of Papua that also becomes the home for the endemic orchid Dendrobium azureum, also known as Blue Orchid. This species caught the attention of the world’s observers in 1938 after a British woman named Lucy Evelyn Cheesman discovered it growing on a tree at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level.

Andre Schuitman, an observer from National Herbarium in London, was amazed at the description of the specimen, which explained that this orchid was in dark blue. According to him, orchids in the Dendrobium genus are primarily in rainbow colors. This is what makes Blue Orchid special, among others.

This orchid typically will only bloom once a week. In addition, its distribution is only around the Waigeo area, meaning it can not be found yet outside its original environment. It requires further research regarding whether it can be cultivated outside its habitat.

Those were only five of the many orchid species discovered in West Papua. The dense jungles of this province still possess a great deal of ecological wealth that has yet to be discovered by scientists. However, it’s important to note that the biodiversity in this region is also competing with human threats and climate change.

 

References:

https://www.mongabay.co.id/2020/05/18/anggrek-biru-si-cantik-dari-pulau-waigeo-yang-belum-dilindungi/

https://hewata.com/jenis-anggrek-spesies-indonesia/#4_Dendrobium_Discolor

https://bacaterus.com/tumbuhan-langka-di-papua/

https://www.papuaparadise.com/news/the-orchids-of-raja-ampat/