Conservation and reintroduction of native orchids of Singapore – the next phase


  • Tim W. Yam
  • Felicia Tay
  • Peter Ang
  • Weijing Soh



Some 226 species of native orchids have been recorded in Singapore. However, of these 178 are considered to be extinct, and only five are common. The orchid conservation programme aims to monitor existing species, explore ways to conserve their germplasm, and increase their number for subsequent re-introduction into appropriate habitats, including roadside trees, parks and nature areas. From 1999 to 2008, we carried out experiments and have successfully propagated and re-introduced 5 species of native orchids, namely Grammatophyllum speciosum Blume, Bulbophyllum vaginatum Rchb.f., Bulbophyllum membranaceum Teijsm. and Binn., Cymbidium finlaysonianum Lindl. and Cymbidium bicolor Lindl. spp. pubescens (Lindl.) Du Puy and Cribb. More than 80% of the plants are growing well and all that have survived have flowered. From 2009 to 2012, we expanded our reintroduction efforts by planting fifteen species: Bulbophyllum blumei (Lindl.) J.J.Sm., Bulbophyllum medusa (Lindl.) Rchb.f., Bulbophyllum membranaceum Teijsm. and Binn., Bulbophyllum purpurascens (T.andB.) J.J.Sm., Bulbophyllum vaginatum Rchb.f., Coelogyne mayeriana Rchb.f., Coelogyne rochussenii De Vr., Cymbidium finlaysonianum Lindl., Dendrobium aloifolium (Blume) Rchb.f., Dendrobium leonis (Lindl.) Rchb.f., Grammatophyllum speciosum Blume, Phalaenopsis cornu cervi (Breda) Bl. and Rchb.f., Cymbidium bicolor Lindl. spp. pubescens (Lindl.) Du Puy and Cribb, Thrixspermum amplexicaule Rchb.f., and Vanilla griffithii Rchb.f. is scheduled to be planted. One of our goals is that the reintroduced species would act as catalysts for the restoration of at least part of the original ecosystem. For example, pollinators may be attracted to sites where orchids have been re-introduced. Subsequently, orchid seeds that are produced from naturally pollinated flowers may be blown to the safe sites where appropriate mycorrhizal fungi are present; thus making germination and subsequent establishment of natural populations in areas beyond those in which the re-introductions occurred!