AN ORCHID FOR LYDIA
A NEW DENDROBIUM ORCHID that blooms in the mountains of Bukidnon, Mindanao, at 1,300 meters elevation, has been named in honor of Mrs. Lydia Chua Yap, grandmother of Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, an orchid and forest conservationist who is the Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of the Manila Bulletin. Mrs. Yap is the wife of Don Emilio T. Yap, former chairman of the Manila Bulletin.
Dr. Miguel de Leon, who discovered the species while trekking in the area last May, described the new orchid as “beautiful, having a pristinely white flower which lasts for several days.” He said the Dendrobium lydiae “borrows characteristics of other sections and yet it is distinct.”
The authors of the description, which was published in OrchideenJournal, are Jim Cootes, Dr. De Leon, and Mark Arcebal Naïve.
“Dendrobium lydiae is a rather unique member of section Crumenata. The owers generally resemble those of Dendrobium mindanaense from section Strongyle, but they differ in the attened leaves, and the very differently shaped labellum,” the description said.
The characteristics of the orchid species were described in the OrchideenJournal as “sympodial, upright to pendent epiphyte with stems growing up to 1.5 cm long by 1.5 mm in diameter, gradually enlarging cylindrically into two nodes, which are constricted centrally, with a total length of approximately 4 cm by 1.4 cm in diameter.”
The flower’s color is “pure white with purple veins on the side lobes; there is a greenish blotch on the center of the mid lobe; dorsal sepal: ovate, apex acute, 1.1 cm long by 5 mm wide, threeveined.”
The petals were described as “lanceolate, 1 cm long by 4 mm wide, single veined,” and the lateral sepals as “broadly falcate, 1.3 cm long by 6 mm wide, forming a short base; labellum (central petal) – three lobed, 1.2 cm long by 7 mm wide; side lobes rounded; mid lobe broadly ovate; there is a small patch of hairs on the mid lobe. Pedicel and ovary: ridged longitudinally, tapering gradually, 1.2 mm in diameter by 7 mm long.”
Dr. De Leon, who got interested in orchids as an offshoot of his being a raptor conservationist and trekker, said the new species was named after Yap’s grandmother in recognition of Yap’s orchid and forest conservation efforts. De Leon explained Yap’s passion for conservation as extending to replicating rare orchid species and distributing those to be planted in similar habitats. De Leon explained that an orchid species being named after a person or place is very significant as the name will be used in all future literature to describe the species. “It becomes a scientifically-identified orchid and the name will stay forever,” he said.
There are two kinds of orchids: a species and a hybrid. A species grows in the wild while a hybrid is man-made, he explained. There are many hybrid orchids that have been named after celebrities.
De Leon explained that the discovery of a new species is guided by the “Philippine Native Orchid Species” book published in 2011 by Jim Cootes who is known as a “taxonomist,” a biologist who groups organisms into categories.
De Leon, whose affection for orchids seems to be going towards that direction, is an ophthalmologist-vitreo retina surgeon. He calls himself a “raptor conservationist.”
He also discovered a new Epicrianthes species and named it the Epicriantehes aquinoi, in honor of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the 15th President of the Philippines. (Reprinted from the July 3, 2016 issue of Manila Bulletin)