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Two Rare Orchids Discovered at Brackenridge Field Lab

Two Rare Orchids Discovered at Brackenridge Field Lab

Last week Robert Deans, a University of Texas at Austin graduate student in ecology, evolution and behavior, discovered an extremely rare orchid in an unexpected place—at an urban biological field station in the heart of Austin, Texas.

When Rob Plowes, a research scientist who works at the university's Brackenridge Field Laboratory, went to confirm the discovery on the BFL site just west of downtown Austin he found a second rare orchid that also had never been documented in the city.

"Each are only known from one or two sites in Texas, yet they have suddenly popped up here," says Plowes. "More amazing is that they don't even have leaves, and they depend entirely on feeding off underground fungi."

Texas orchid experts visited BFL to view the new additions, which likely appeared due to heavier than usual rainfall. The identity of the vivid purple species was confirmed as Hexalectris grandiflora. The creamy red species is Hexalectris arizonica. Both are considered to be extremely scarce.

Jack Neff, director of the Central Texas Melittological Institute, also reported finding a third species of rare orchid, Hexalectris spicata, at BFL nearly two decades ago. Its petals can be purple or brown on the same flower and have prominent stripes.

According to Plowes, all three species showed up "within 100 meters of each other and have only ever been seen once at BFL."

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Comments 5

 
Guest - Jenny Ross on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 12:16

Stunning!

Stunning!
Guest - Mary Scott on Wednesday, 29 June 2016 18:48

How wonderful. Gorgeous hidden treasures.

How wonderful. Gorgeous hidden treasures.
Guest - James Hendricks on Thursday, 30 June 2016 22:23

What a cool discovery! And right here in Austin!

What a cool discovery! And right here in Austin!
Guest - Owen Martin on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 10:20

Very cool - I hope this article gets picked up in a lot of other periodicals and journals.
Next question: can they be propagated???

Very cool - I hope this article gets picked up in a lot of other periodicals and journals. Next question: can they be propagated???
Guest - Andre on Thursday, 14 July 2016 12:04

Amazing!

Amazing!
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