Vanilla attropogon – loosely translated as “vanilla with a dark beard” is not something you are likely to put in your pudding. Out of the vast number of vanilla orchid species only three are commercially cultivated for consumption, the most common of which is the Mexican vanilla, now cultivated in Madagaskar. Other breeds are used in the perfume industry but most of the species are simply flowers growing in the tropics. Now Czech botanists have uncovered a brand new species in a largely unexplored nature reserve in southern Vietnam.
Members of an expert team from Palacký University conducting research on the island of Borneo revealed recently they had uncovered a new species of plant belonging to the Thismiaceae family. Highly-unusual in appearance, the initial specimen was actually found by accident, when one of the members of the team slipped and fell, only to notice the plant growing nearby. The specimen was gathered for research, and later additional samples were found.
An expert team from Olomouc’s Palácký University’s Faculty of Science discovered an unknown plant species in Borneo, university representatives have revealed. The plant, which researchers had named Thismia hexagona, was found by accident, after a student member of the team lost his footing on wet ground. Martin Dančák of the university’s Department of Ecology & Environmental Sciences described the appearance of the plant as “very bizarre at first sight” – not green, a seemingly leafless stalk leading most often with a single bloom and little tentacles. Thismia hexagona ranks among mycoheterotrophic plants, i.e. non-green plants without Chlorophyll. Unlike most such plants, he said, it was not parasitic.
Coming up on this month’s Science Journal: advice on how to win the National Prize for scientific research – just revolutionise global progress in the field of virology; organisms of the Czech Republic, unite! Your genetic data is wanted, but there are so many of you – more than 100,000; and how do generations of children from smoggy Prague know there are stars out there? Because there is one of the largest planetariums in the world here, and it’s celebrating its fiftieth birthday.
The Czech Republic is among the states that failed to fulfil the EU’s pledge to stop the decline in biological diversity by 2010, Czech ornithologist Lukas Viktora said on Friday in reaction to a report issued by BirdLife International ahead of a world conference on biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan. The report states that wildlife species are still dying out and wildlife habitats continue to shrink due to intensive farming, the construction of new motorways, giant storing facilities, energy industry and the development of cities. The Czech Ornithological Society has criticized the fact that while 41 protected bird areas have been established in the Czech Republic, protection in them is not always effective, and many measures remain only on paper.
A West Bohemian spa town has won European Union funds to fight one of the most serious environmental problems in the area — an invasive plant that spreads like wildfire and lets almost nothing stand in its way. The project is believed to the first of its kind in the country and could lead to even more ambitious efforts.
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, aimed at raising awareness of the disappearance of many of the Earth’s species and finding ways to reverse the current trend. The Ministry of the Environment has just launched an information campaign to that end here in the Czech Republic, where around one third of the country’s 80,000 animal and plant species are believed to be in danger. So what does the campaign hope to achieve? I spoke to the ministry’s Dagmar Zíková.