This Philippine Orchid Just Made 2020 A Lot Brighter

IMAGE Miguel David De Leon

A new species of orchid has just been discovered in the Philippines, and it was named after the U.P. College of Medicine

The orchid, named Aerides upcmae, is endemic to Bukidnon. The species was discovered and photographed by Dr. Miguel David De Leon, photographer and director of the Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy. 

Photo by Miguel David De Leon.

The discovery is extraordinary, considering the pace of habitat destruction happening in the Philippines today. 

“It is rare to find large and highly attractive orchid species in the wilderness of the Philippines due to habitat destruction and overcollection,” De Leon told Esquire Philippines. He published his findings in the Orchideen Journal. “I discovered it early December 2019 while surveying avian habitats in Bukidnon.”

"Because a scientific name is forever, the orchid will bear the name of the UP College of Medicine forever."

The orchid was confirmed to be a new species last week, after De Leon showed high-resolution photos of the plant, flowers, and dissected flowers to his coauthors. “Martin Motes is a world-renowned orchid expert based in Florida. Jim Cootes is the author of three books on Philippine orchids. Derek Cabactulan is an orchid enthusiast,” said De Leon.


Why the orchid was named after the UP College of Medicine

Photo by Miguel David De Leon.

According to De Leon, the orchid genus Aerides was established in 1790. Aerides literally means “children of the air.” 

“Naming this spectacular new species of Aerides after the UP College of Medicine is quite fitting for we—all of UPCM—are children of our alma mater, schooled and nurtured by her not just for five academic years but for life,” said De Leon. “It is with deep affection and gratitude that Class 1995 honors its alma mater and all of you who are UPCM with this spectacular species, Aerides upcmae.”

De Leon is an eye surgeon by profession, but he enjoys taking photos of birds and wildlife. Back in March 2020, De Leon and his team photographed for the very first time the fledgling of the ultra-rare South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher

Then, in May 2020, he captured on camera another rare bird: the Philippine Trogon, also known among birders as the real-life Ibong Adarna

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