Other Threatened Orchid Species
Hong Kong's Orchids
Hong Kong boasts more than 130 species and varieties of wild orchids, representing all five orchid subfamilies (Apostasioideae, Cypripedioideae, Vanilloideae, Orchidoideae and Epidendroideae). Including up to seven taxa* considered endemic* to the territory (Bulbophyllum tseanum, Cheirostylis jamesleungii, C. monteiroi, Coelogyne fimbriata var. leungiana, Habenaria coultousii and H. leptoloba and Spiranthes hongkongensis), this rich, local natural heritage is of global conservation importance. Despite renewed efforts in countryside management and protection over the last five decades or more, orchids remain vulnerable to habitat destruction and modification, and are a target for plant thieves.
Cheirostylis monteiroi, one of ten orchid species prioritised for conservation action in Hong Kong
At KFBG, we regard the conservation of our local orchid species as a priority, and we undertake projects which aim to improve understanding of the ecology of those most at risk. Following an analysis of the distribution, abundance and extinction risk of all Hong Kong’s native orchids, our orchid specialists identified ten priority species most in need of conservation action (Acanthephippium gougahense, Bulbophyllum bicolor, B. kwangtungense, Calanthe masuca var. sinense, Cheirostylis monteiroi, Goodyera seikoomontana, Habenaria leptoloba, Hetaeria youngsayei, Paphiopedilum purpuratum and Tainia ruybarrettoi). For each of these, we are attempting to secure ex situ populations in our living collection by pollinating flowers and raising seeds through micropropagation. These plants will serve as an insurance against extinction in the wild, and may be used for reintroductions in the future. We also monitor the persistence of focal species at key sites, we observe and report on the impacts of threats, and we develop and execute integrated management strategies for species survival in the wild.
Floristic diversity and ongoing human impacts on the environment are features of the entire South China region, of which Hong Kong forms a part. Our work on orchids and their habitats also addresses the needs of priority species and genera in China, Indochina and neighbouring countries, and the threats which have the potential to push these vulnerable plants into extinction. Many may be regarded as both indicator and flagship species, the conservation of which would benefit the ecosystem writ large.
* Endemic – in ecological use, a species endemic to a given region is naturally known only from that region.
*Taxon (plural taxa) – a group of organisms sharing biological features and which therefore belong to a single biological unit, such as a genus, species or subspecies.