Research Article
Research Article
Phalaenopsis medogensis (Orchidaceae, Epidendroideae, Vandeae), a new species from Xizang, China
expand article infoChong-Bo Ma§|, Xi-Long Wang, Wen-Shuai Chen, Zhen Liu#, Xiao-Hua Jin§
‡ Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
§ China National Botanical Garden, Beijing, China
| University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
¶ Tibet Plateau Institute of Biology, Xizang, China
# Motuo Forestry and Grassland Administration, Xizang, China
Open Access


A new species of Orchidaceae, Phalaenopsis medogensis, from Motuo, Xizang, is described and illustrated based on morphological characters and molecular phylogenetics analysis. Molecular phylogenetic analysis and morphological characters indicate that P. medogensis is close to P. deliciosa, P. gibbosa and P. lobbii, but differs from them by having triangular wings on the column foot, rhombic lip mid-lobe with a fleshy-horned appendage at the base, and concave lip lateral lobes, the lower part white with a deep purplish-red spot and hairy, the upper part pale yellow with dense rust spots.


Flora, Motuo County, orchid taxonomy, Yarlungzangbo River


The genus Phalaenopsis Bl. comprises 75 accepted names (, distributed from India and Southeast Asia to Australia and New Guinea with centres of diversity in Indonesia and the Philippines (Pridgeon et al. 2014; Deng et al. 2015). Based on molecular and morphological evidence, seven genera, including Doritis, Hygrochilus, Kingidium, Lesliea, Nothodoritis, Ornithochilus and Sedirea, have been merged into Phalaenopsis s.l. (Tsai et al. 2010; Cribb and Schuiteman 2012; Kocyan and Schuiteman 2014). Phalaenopsis s.l. was redefined and a new infrageneric classification was proposed, comprising four subgenera, namely subgen. Parishianae (Sweet) Christenson, subgen. Phalaenopsis Blume subgen. Hygrochilus (Pfitzer) Kocyan & Schuit, and subgen. Ornithochilus (Lindl.) Kocyan & Schuit (Kocyan and Schuiteman 2014; Pridgeon et al. 2014; Li et al. 2016; Aung and Jin 2021).

There are about 24 species of Phalaenopsis in China (Zhou et al. 2021). During our fieldwork in Motuo County, Nyingchi City, Xizang Autonomous Region, China in 2022, an unknown species of Phalaenopsis was found in the evergreen broad-leaved forest along the Yarlungzangbo River. Based on morphological characters and molecular evidence, it was identified as a new species of Phalaenopsis and is described below.

Materials and methods

Morphological characters of the new species were observed, measured and photographed, based on living plants in Motuo, Xizang. Four markers, including one nuclear marker (nrITS) and three plastid markers (matK, trnL and trnL-F), were used in molecular systematics. Primers and amplification procedures of the four markers followed Deng et al. (2015). In total, 40 species in Phalaenopsis and seven species of Aeridinae (Suppl. material 1) were included in the molecular analysis. The conflict between nrDNA and plastid DNA data was assessed in PAUA using the length difference test (ILD) (Darlu and Lecointre 2002). Two species, Aeranthes grandiflora Lindley and Podangis dactyloceras (Reichenbach) Schltr., were used as the outgroup, based on previous results (Chase et al. 2015; Li et al. 2019). Sequences were edited independently and assembled using SeqMan ( Sequence alignment, model selection and super matrix construction were performed in the Phylosuite (Zhang et al. 2020). Bayesian Inference was inferred with MrBayes v. 3.2.7a on XSEDE in the CIPRES Science Gateway online web server (Miller et al. 2010). The model of partition selection was found in ModelFinder (Kalyaanamoorthy et al. 2017) with Corrected Akaike Information Criterion (AICc). GTR+F+I+G4 was selected as the best model for ITS and GTR+F+G4 for the three plastid markers. Two separate Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) analyses were performed, proceeding for 1,000,000 generations and sampling every 1000 generations. Maximum Likelihood (ML) analyses and model selection were performed in IQ-Tree 2 (Minh et al. 2020). Support values for the clade were estimated using 1,000,000 bootstrap replicates.


The ILD test indicated that plastid markers and nrITS were not suitable for combined analysis. Phalaenopsis medogensis belongs to subgen. Parishianae and is close to P. deliciosa, P. gibbosa and P. lobbii, based on molecular phylogenetic analyses. The Bayesian Inference and ML analyses of ITS showed that P. medogensis belongs to subgen. Parishianae with moderate to high support (Fig. 1, PP = 1, BSML = 93.5). The Bayesian Inference of the three plastid markers showed that P. medogensis is sister to the group that includes P. deliciosa-P. lobbii with high support (Fig. 2, PP = 1).

Figure 1. 

Phylogram of Bayesian Inference based on nrDNA ITS. Numbers above branches indicate posterior probabilities (PP) for BI analysis and bootstrap percentages (BS) for ML, respectively. A dash “-” indicates that support at a node < 50%.

Figure 2. 

Phylogram of Bayesian Inference, based on plastid sequences (matK, trnL and trnL-F). Numbers above branches indicate posterior probabilities (PP).


Phalaenopsis medogensis X.H.Jin & C.B.Ma, sp. nov.

Figs 3, 4 墨脱蝴蝶兰


China. Xizang Autonomous Region, Nyingchi City, Motuo County, elev. 800 m, 18 Apr 2022, Xiaohua Jin, Chongbo Ma & Tiankai Zhang 38519 (holotype PE!, isotype, PE!).


Phalaenopsis medogensis is morphologically close to P. deliciosa, P. gibbosa and P. lobbii, but readily distinguished from them by its column foot having a pair of triangular wings, and a lip with concave subrectangular lateral lobes, that are white with a deep purplish-red spot in their lower part and hairy and pale yellow with dense rust-coloured spots in their upper part, and a rhombic mid-lobe with a fleshy horned appendage at base and grooved in the centre (Table 1).

Figure 3. 

Habitat and plants of Phalaenopsis medogensis.

Epiphytic plant. Roots greenish, elongate, flattened, densely verrucose and prostrate along the twigs or trunk. Stem very short. Leaf 1, oblong-elliptic, 7–10 × 3–4 cm. Inflorescences 1 or 2, suberect or arching, ca.12 cm long, unbranched, laxly 5–6 flowered; floral bracts ovate-triangular, 5–6 mm long. Flowers 1–1.2 cm in diameter, yellow; sepals and petals pure yellow, lacking spots or other colouration. Dorsal sepal similar to petals, elliptic, ca. 7–8 × 5 mm; lateral sepals broadly triangular, ca. 10 × 6 mm. Petals long elliptic, ca. 9 × 5 mm. Lip 3-lobed; lateral lobes subrectangular, concave, almost boat-shaped, 2 × 4 mm, lower part white with a deep purplish-red spot and hairy, upper part pale yellow with dense rust-coloured spots; mid-lobe rhombic, ca. 10 × 7 mm, disc grooved, base with a fleshy protuberant appendage; appendage with 2–3 teeth on either side, apex with two long horns. Column subparallel to mid-lobe, ca. 5 mm long; column foot ca. 4 mm long, with triangular wings on both sides; anther cap yellow, hemi-spherical.

Figure 4. 

Flowers of Phalaenopsis medogensis X.H. Jin & C.B. Ma, sp. nov. A front view of flower B lateral view of flower C front view of flower, showing basal part of lip D lateral view of column, ovary and pedicel E lip, side view F lip, dorsal view G column and column foot H dorsal sepal I petal J lateral sepal K anther cap. Photographed by Xiaohua Jin and Chongbo Ma.


The epithet “medogensis” refers to the type locality of the new species, Medog County, Nyingchi City, Xizang Autonomous Region, China.

Distribution and habitat

Phalaenopsis medogensis is currently known only from the type locality in Motuo, Xizang, China. It is epiphytic on trunks and twigs at elevations of 700–900m along the hot valley of the Yarlungzangbo River.


Flowering in March to April.

Conservation status

Phalaenopsis medogensis grows in the tropical rain forest in Motuo County. At least one population of about 30 plants was discovered during our fieldwork. The habitat has been significantly damaged due to the development of agriculture and road construction. We tentatively assessed the risk of extinction of the Phalaenopsis medogensis as Critically Endangered (CR) under criteria B2ab(i, ii, iii, iv, v) according to the IUCN criteria version 15.1 (IUCN 2022).


P. medogensis is similar to three species in subgen. Parishianae, namely, P. deliciosa, P. gibbosa and P. lobbii, but is readily distinguished from them based on morphological characters given in Table 1.

Table 1.

Morphological comparison of Phalaenopsis medogensis and similar species.

P. medogensis P. deliciosa P. gibbosa P. lobbii
Flower colour yellow white with pale purple stripes or markings white tinged with orange White
Lateral sepals broadly triangular, ca. 10 × 6 mm transversely spreading obliquely ovate, 5.5–6 × 3.5–4 mm curving backwards obliquely ovate or ovate-elliptic, about 6.5 × 4.5 mm obliquely ovate to suborbicular, 8 × 7 mm, somewhat reflexed
Mid-lobe of lip rhombic, 10 × 7 mm; disc grooved with a fleshy protuberant appendage; appendage 2–3 teeth on either side and apex with two long horns obovate-cuneate, 6 × 5 mm, apex emarginate, with a central ridge; disc with a flattened and Y-shaped appendage broadly triangular, concave, apex rounded 5–6 × 6–8 mm; disc with a denticulate free callus reniform, 6 × 10 mm, concave with lateral margins shallowly incurved; disc with a callus of four filiform appendages
Lateral lobes of lip subrectangular, concave, almost boat-shaped, lower part white with a deep purplish-red spot and hairy, upper part pale yellow with dense rust-coloured spots obliquely elliptic-obovate, rounded, with tooth-like flaps, base decurrent and forming a broadly conic spur erect, linear, falcate, acuminate erect, falcate, parallel to middle and then diverging and forming a U-shaped structure
Column foot with triangular wings on both sides without wings without wings without wings

Key to species of subgen. Parishianae in China

1a Leaves deciduous; lip mid-lobe smaller than petals and sepals and with central protuberance 2
1b Leaves more or less persistent; lip mid-lobe broad, lacking an obvious protuberance or concave U-shaped compound structure in centre 5
2a Column obviously elongated, ca. 5 × 1.2 mm, near base with an appendage; rostellum apex hooked and slightly bilobed, petals wider than sepals P. zhejiangensis
2b Column not obviously elongated, without an appendage at base; petals and sepals similar in width 3
3a Lip mid-lobe obcordate with a central apical fleshy knob P. wilsonii
3b Lip mid-lobe of lip not obcordate, lacking a terminal notch 4
4a Flowers pink; lip mid-lobe with a conspicuous constriction P. honghenensis
4b Flowers deep green; lip mid-lobe oblanceolate, lacking any conspicuous constriction P. stobartiana
5a Terrestrial or lithophytic; lip mid-lobe split into three lobelets P. pulcherrima
5b Epiphytic; lip mid-lobe entire, slightly concave 6
6a Column base not protuberant; lip more or less spurred; lateral lobe margins dentate 7
6b Column base distinctly protuberant; lip not spurred; lateral lobes entire 8
7a Lip mid-lobe sagittate; spur sacculate P. mirabilis
7b Lip mid-lobe obovate-cuneate, apex deeply emarginate, with a thickened central longitudinal ridge; spur indistinct P. deliciosa
8a Lip mid-lobe rhombic, its base with a fleshy protuberant appendage; appendage with 2–3 teeth on either side, apex with two long horns; column foot with triangular wings on both sides P. medogensis
8b Lip mid-lobe non-rhombic, its base with a callus with filiform appendages 9
9a Lip mid-lobe white with one broad longitudinal chestnut-brown stripe, the basal callus deeply forked, with a crescent-shaped appendage in middle, each arm of the callus divided into two filiform-linear antennae P. malipoensis
9b Lip mid-lobe white with two broad longitudinal chestnut-brown or yellow stripes, its basal callus of four filiform appendages 10
10a Lateral sepals transversely spreading, ovate-elliptic P. lobbii
10b Lateral sepals curving backwards, ovate P. gibbosa


Funds were provided by the Project of Orchid Biodiversity Survey of China, National Forestry and Grassland Administration (2019070714, 2020100707) and the Survey of Wildlife Resources in Key Areas of Tibet (ZL202203601).


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Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 

Voucher and GenBank accession numbers

Chong-Bo Ma Wang Xi-Long, ChenWen-Shuai, Liu Zheng, Xiao-Hua Jin

Data type: Docx file.

This dataset is made available under the Open Database License ( The Open Database License (ODbL) is a license agreement intended to allow users to freely share, modify, and use this Dataset while maintaining this same freedom for others, provided that the original source and author(s) are credited.
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