Rare orchid successfully bred in breakthrough step

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jan 05, 2016 - Page 3

The Council of Agriculture said it has made a breakthrough breeding the Venus slipper, a genus of orchids that could not be commercially grown due to planting difficulties, with the flower expected to be a rising star in the nation’s orchid industry.

The Venus slipper, comprising about 80 natural species in addition to artificial hybrids, is very rare and is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Taoyuan District Agricultural Research and Extension Station researcher Lee Shu-chen (李淑真) said.

Trading in wild Venus slippers is prohibited, while artificially grown slipper orchids can only be traded conditionally, she said.

Alternatively, the Venus slipper could be grown using the plant’s side shoots to produce clones, but a plant might only produce two side shoots every year, making commercial production moot, she said.

However, the station has developed a tissue culture technique to stimulate the Venus slipper with appropriate hormones and nutrients to increase the side shoot production by between 150 and 500 percent and it is able to grow three generations in one year, she said.

“Clones and the parent strain have the same genes, so they might flower at the same time and produce the same flower,” she said.

About 80 plants can be cloned from a parent plant in one year and 6,400 additional clones could be produced in the following year, she said.