Scientists claim to have rediscovered Europe’s rarest species of orchid.
The species, known as Hochstetter’s butterfly-orchid, was first discovered in 1838 but had escaped official recognition for almost two centuries.
That is, however, until now. On a trip to the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean, a team of scientists stumbled across the
orchid on a single volcanic ridge.
“I was astonished when our field expeditions revealed the existence of a third – and exceptionally rare – species, growing in such a dramatic, primeval landscape,” said leader researcher Professor Richard Bateman.
“I was even more astonished when my subsequent studies in herbaria and libraries showed that this exceptionally rare orchid, found only on one mountain-top on a single Azorean island, had in fact been found by the very first serious botanist to visit the Azores, in 1838.”
The two other species they found were the widespread short-spurred butterfly-orchid – which was present on all nine islands – and the rarer, narrow-lipped variety, which was present on eight of the islands.
Orchids are one of the most diverse and widespread families of flowering plants, with Europe home to more than 300 species.
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