A new species of orchid is discovered in Palawan, named as Corybas circinatus – a helmet orchid endemic only in the province. It is growing in the wild of Mt. Matalingahan, Mt. Bloomfield, Mt. Victoria, Sultan Peak and in Mt. Bahile.
The team of botanists that discovered the said orchid are Danilo Tandang, Ulyesses Ferreras, Annalee Hadsall, Stephanie Pym-Lyon, Alastair Robinson and Rene Alfred Anton Bustamante, the only Palaweño in the group. They all come from different institutions such as Botany Division of Philippine National Museum of Natural History, Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences of University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Department of Botany from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society Inc. of Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens from Melbourne, Australia.
The research was initiated by the Philippine Taxonomic Initiative, Inc. According to the study, Corybus circinatus is described as distinct from all known members of genus in having a four-lobed labellum with two longer, upper lobes incurved over the two shorter lobes, a strongly cucullate dorsal sepal with a retuse apex, and a small, glandular protuberance at the front of the pedicel.”
According to Bustamante, helmeted orchids or corybas “was first discovered by Australian botanist Alastair Robinson in 2007, and though it was recognized as new at the time, he did not have permits to collect it and it remained undescribed until funding for a locally-led collecting expedition was available.’’
Helmeted orchids or Corybas is usually found in India and Australia where it grows among mosses and leaf litter on the forest floor, in the Philippines there are currently four known species of helmet orchid, and this latest discovery is the fifth one according to the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc.