Wild Orchids Slipping Across

10-10-2019    11:44   |    Science Blog

The insatiable demand for orchids could be driving wild orchids to extinction in southern China.

Hong Liu, a conservation ecologist at FIU’s International Center for Tropical Botany at the Kampong, is on a mission to reverse this trend.

In the first-ever study of the wild orchid trade in southern China, Liu and a team of researchers found that it’s illegal and more widespread than presumed. It’s also reaching into other countries. Many species found in the markets weren’t native, but from neighboring countries including Laos, Burma and Vietnam.

“Vendors openly told us that they heard from the people who collected the orchids in the wild that they had to travel farther than before and that they also couldn’t collect the orchids in the places that they used to, because they didn’t grow there anymore,” Liu said.

This wasn’t the only evidence wild orchids were slipping across China’s long and porous southern border. China’s western, rural provinces have the greatest diversity of orchid species growing in the wild. However, that diversity was not mirrored in the local markets, where they featured far fewer species compared to the eastern, city markets. This mismatch reveals the orchids in the eastern markets originated from someplace else, likely Southeast Asia.

The demand for orchids dates back centuries. The craze became so frenzied it was given a name: Orchidelirium. Today, this appeal lives on. And it threatens orchids. Unregulated wild collection can have irreversible impacts. It can lead to entire species being wiped out from specific areas.

 

Click here to read the complete article.

Image of Andreas Lischka via Pixabay 


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