Monday, January 18, 2016

A new orchid: Encyclia inopinata

Encyclia is a genus of orchids. These plants are so-called epiphytes which means they grow upon another plant such as a tree without harming them. These plants get both moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and sometimes from debris accumulating around them.

When a group of Mexican researchers stumbled across a beautiful orchid in bloom, they found themselves so surprised by its unique colors and forms that later on they chose the species name inopinatus, meaning "unexpected."

This new elegant orchid species that grows on rocks in deciduous forests in Mexico is between 30 and 42 cm tall, while together with its flowers it reaches between 80 and 90 cm. Having been recorded only from a few sites on the Pacific slope of Oaxaca state, Mexico, it appears to be rare.

For the experts: A new species of Encyclia from Mexico, E. inopinata, is described and illustrated. This species is similar to E. diota but it can be distinguished by its usually more robust plants with 2–3 leaves per pseudobulb and its flowers with longer and narrower sepals (1.8±0.1 × 0.63±0.03 cm in E. inopinata versus 1.48 ±0.14 × 0.65±0.06 cm in E. diota) and petals (1.7±0.05 × 0.59±0.05 cm in E. inopinata vs. 1.36 ±0.19 × 0.81±0.13 cm in E. diota), and the labellum with narrower lateral lobes (0.18±0.02 cm in E. inopinata vs. 0.41±0.10 cm in E. diota). Other characters that differentiate these two species are the coriaceous sepals, pink callus, and white anther of Encyclia inopinata (versus fleshy-leathery sepals, white callus, and yellow anther of E. diota). The new species can be found in deciduous forests along the Pacific slope of Oaxaca state, near of the border with Guerrero state, at about 1200 m. It blooms between March and July.

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