Dendrochilum is a genus of orchids that are found in rainforests and grow on the branches and trunks of trees, thereby escaping from the competition of all the other plants to be found on the forest floor. They are not parasites as they use the tree only as perch.
These orchids grow mainly in high altitude cloud forests, where the trees on which they live are coated with moss due to the intense moisture levels in the low clouds. Once the sun burns off this water they are subjected to bright sunshine and strong winds associated with such high altitudes.
There is a big group of hobbyists worldwide that cultivates a multitude of orchids including Dendrochilum species. Initially this species was thought to be a yet another new hybrid variant as it appeared in cultivation under the name 'Big Pink' but this new study shows it is actually new species from the Philippines.
The species name honours Georg Hampel, who provided the authors with study material of the newly described species.
For the experts: In 2013, an unidentified species of Dendrochilum appeared in cultivation under the commercial trade name ‘Big Pink’. Using sequences of the nuclear ribosomal ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region and of the plastid matK and ycf1 genes, we examined the phylogenetic relationships between ‘Big Pink’ and six other species of the phenetically defined Dendrochilum subgen. Platyclinis sect. Eurybrachium. Separate and combined analyses (using Bayesian, Maximum Likelihood and Parsimony inference) showed consistent placement of the unidentified species within a statistically well supported clade. Furthermore, the multi-copy nrITS marker showed clear distinct peaks. Thus, we found no evidence that ‘Big Pink’ could be a hybrid. Against this background, and further supported by species-specific mutations in (at least) nrITS and ycf1, we formally describe ‘Big Pink’ as a new species under the name Dendrochilum hampelii. Morphologically, it is most similar to D. propinquum, but it differs in a number of characters. Of the two cultivated individuals available for our study, one was of unrecorded provenance. The other allegedly originated from the Philippines. Observations of the species occurring in the wild in the Philippines in the northern provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental on the island of Mindanao confirmed this.