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Madagascar Celebrated at London Orchid Festival

The 28th edition of the orchid festival in London honors Madagascar’s blossoms.

The island nation is home to 10,000 to 12,000 plant varieties, with orchids accounting for one out of every ten.

Approximately 5,000 blooms were utilized to create magnificent displays at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Landy Rajaovelona, a researcher, notes that orchids are considered a barometer of the island’s health.

“Orchids have an important role on Madagascar’s ecosystems because they are sensitive to the environmental conditions, to changes in the climate, to drought, the lack of light, lack of humidity.”

If you look closely, you might see some Madagascan species hiding in the flowers, such as ring-tailed lemurs and chameleons.

Florists have even constructed the Vorombe, a gigantic, flightless bird that was formerly indigenous to the island but is now extinct.

The horticulture crew collects leaves, bark, and moss to construct the animals.

Of course, orchids are added to offer a splash of color.

It takes a whole year to plan this event.

Kew’s orchid collection has 8,000 plants with 1,300 species.

The horticulturists strive to employ as many plants from the Kew collection as possible, with any additional orchids sourced from outside vendors.

Among the most biodiverse locations on the planet

Kew has been working in Madagascar since 1986, and there are approximately 40 researchers based there.

The festival involves the reproduction of a field camp where scientists would go to explore the island’s diverse flora and animals.

However, these tiny blossoms rely on a fragile balance that must be maintained.

Habitat loss, frequent fires, drought, logging, and illegal collection have made plants like orchids extremely susceptible.

Currently, 228 of Madagascar’s 1,000 orchid species have been evaluated and added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

“Unfortunately, Madagascar orchids are threatened since, based on our findings, about 76% are classified as endangered by the IUCN Conservation Assessment. That suggests it can be found in less than five locations in Madagascar. They are highly endangered. According to Rajaovelona, several orchid species can only be found in one location in Madagascar.

Kew researchers want to raise awareness of all the flowers facing extinction.

They hope that working with local communities to maintain and perhaps restore orchids will assist to ensure their survival for future generations.

The Kew Orchid Festival will run until March 3rd.

Written by PH

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