Revealing the True Identity of Papuan Black Orchid

Papuan Black Orchid?

If the keyword “Anggrek Hitam Papua” is searched with the largest search engine, i.e., Google. There will be a lot of information available about this orchid species. However, most of this information cannot be proven scientifically. There is no detailed location, altitude, or scientific name. It is only mentioned that the Papuan Black Orchid is very rare, endangered, live in the interior of the forest, and is difficult to cultivate outside its natural habitat. In addition, the selling price of up to 100 million rupiahs makes the information about this orchid more interesting. Of all the articles presented, there is one photo in common, i.e., an orchid photo with black color. The orchid has a white labellum with dense pink spots on the edges and black spots on the tips, and a yellow callus with black markings in the center of the labellum.

Figure 1. The orchid species that is mistaken for the Papuan Black Orchid

The searching for the identity of the Papuan Black Orchid was also carried out in international journals. But none of the journals discussed about Papuan Black Orchid. Generally, the information obtained is the Black Orchid from Kalimantan, namely Coelogyne pandurata Lindl. because it is widely known by the international community. In addition, there is also an endemic Papuan orchid with the international name The Black Blood-Red Dendrobium (Dendrobium atroviolaceum Rolfe). But the orchid is not black. Furthermore, information was also extracted from orchid enthusiasts and researchers. No one has ever seen the black orchid in question. At least to get the true identity, samples of the vegetative and generative organs of orchids must be checked, not only from photos.

In my personal opinion, correcting the misinformation related to the Papuan Black Orchid is very important. Considering how many people have been hoaxed by this false information. Moreover, most of the information presented is only a copy-paste between one article and another. Even until this article was written there are still many hoax news circulating. My friend from Japan, South America, Netherland, and other countries also know Papua has a “Black Orchid”. This hoax must be clarified as soon as possible.

Figure 2. Google search results with the keyword ‘Anggrek Hitam Papua’

Correcting misinformation related to the Papuan Black Orchid

In October 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism, and Creative Economy (ICBE 2018), organized by the West Papua Provincial Government. The event was attended by two experts on New Guinea orchids, viz. Eduard de Vogel and André Schuiteman. They have described hundreds of orchid species from the New Guinea region. The two of them can be said as the most researchers who know the diversity of orchid species in Papua today. Not without a process, they have focused on researching orchid species in Southeast Asia for more than 40 years!. 

Figure 3. Ed de Vogel and André Schuiteman as speaker at the orchid workshop, ICBE 2018

In one of the workshop sessions, we asked about the “Papuan Black Orchid” true identity. The bright spot in the search for the identity of the Papuan Black Orchid came after asking these two orchid experts from the Netherlands. Ed de Vogel and André, who have been researching Papuan orchids for a long time, don’t even know about the Papuan Black Orchid. What they know is the Kalimantan Black Orchid. After being given information about the photo of the Papuan black orchid, they only said it was a hybrid orchid and not native to Papua. This statement was also confirmed by Jimmy Frans Wanma, a Lecturer at the State University of Papua (UNIPA), who is interested in the Orchidaceae family. With the help of other friends, we were able to identify the Papuan Black Orchid in question. The orchid is the Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight’ Geyserland’.

The Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight ‘Geyserland’ orchid is a hybrid orchid that was popular between 2001 and early 2015. This orchid is a crossing result of Cymbidium orchid cultivation expert from the United States, Andy Easton. The parental of this orchid is Cymbidium Janet Holland x Cymbidium Khairpour. Information about this hybrid orchid can be found in the literature section. But clearly, this orchid does not deserve to be called the “Black Papuan Orchid”. It is because this orchid is not a natural orchid from Papua, but a hybrid orchid from the United States.

Figure 4. Andy Easton with his hybrid orchids.

So who exactly deserves to be called the Papuan Black Orchid?

For about six years I studied Papuan orchids (which is still a very short period of time). Many experiences with local people who named their orchids as Papuan Black Orchids. After being identified, several species of black orchids include Coelogyne beccarii Rchb.f., Grammatophyllum stapeliiflorum (Teijsm. & Binn.) J.J.Sm., and Renanthera caloptera (Rchb.f.) Kocyan & Schuit. However, until now, there is no orchid that is truly internationally renowned as the Papuan Black Orchid. In the future, there may be a native orchid that will replace the false promotion of the Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight Orchid’ Geyserland’ as the Papuan Black Orchid.

 

This article is dedicated to Dr. Eduard de Vogel, who passed away in his sleep a week ago (July 28, 2021). His work will always be remembered, especially his contribution to building the most extensive database in Orchids New Guinea, i.e., orchidsnewguinea.com. 

Rest in Peace, Dr. Eduard Ferdinand de Vogel. Thanks for everything

 

Writer: Reza Saputra (Forest Ecosystem Controller)

Published on August 3, 2021. This article is an English version from Mengungkap Identitas Anggrek Hitam Papua .

 

References:

Ebay. 2015. Orchid Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight “Geyserland” Bulb for sale. https://www.ebay.ie/itm/Orchid-Cymbidium-Kiwi-Midnight-Geyserland-Bulb-Lead-350mm-Healthy-Clone-/201312379928, diakses pada 2 Maret 2019, 10.03 WIT.

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Plants Database. 2017. Orchid (Cymbidium Kiwi Midnight ‘Geyserland’). https://garden.org/plants/view/750982/Orchid-Cymbidium-Kiwi-Midnight-Geyserland/, diakses pada 2 Maret 2019, 10.21 WIT.

Prayoga, R. M. 2017. Anggrek Hitam Papua, Anggrek Langka Seharga Satu Unit Mobil. https://malangtoday.net/inspirasi/anggrek-hitam-papua-anggrek-langka-seharga-satu-unit-mobil/, diakses pada 2 Maret 2019, 08.37 WIT.

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