Phylogenetic position, ecology and conservation of Bulbophyllum bicolor



Bulbophyllum bicolor is a lithophytic or epiphytic orchid with a scattered distribution limited to southeast China and northern Vietnam. With large glossy leaves borne on distinctive angled pseudobulbs and umbels of orange and purple flowers appearing in May and June, it is an attractive species that is subject to illegal collection. Only a handful of populations are known to persist in the wild, and although it can form large colonies, its total global population size is thought to amount to no more than 250 individuals. Accordingly, it is ranked as Endangered in Hong Kong (Barretto et al., 2011), one of its last natural strongholds. Given its precarious status in the wild, researchers at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Hong Kong have selected it is a priority species for conservation.

In order to pinpoint the life history factors which may be limiting the species’ population growth and distribution, a solid understanding of its ecology is required. Research is being conducted to characterise the species’ reproductive biology, demographic behaviour and capacity for long-range gene flow. In order to determine whether its population are suffering as a result of extraneous threats, including illegal collection and habitat degradation, monitoring of the remaining subpopulations is also underway.

Contact: Dr. S. Gale, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong