New ‘Merlion’ orchid discovered in Singapore | Inquirer News

New ‘Merlion’ orchid discovered in Singapore

/ 02:27 PM June 14, 2023

New ‘Merlion’ orchid

The Claderia leontocampus bears small, pendulous, cream-yellow flowers. PHOTOS: M.A. NIISSALO, SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS via The Straits Times/Asia News Network

SINGAPORE – One of Singapore’s most recognizable icons, the Merlion can be found depicted on many things – from T-shirts and mugs to fridge magnets and plush toys.

Now, the mythical mermaid-lion hybrid has also had a newly discovered orchid named after it.


A specimen of the Claderia leontocampus was first collected in Singapore by researchers from the Singapore Botanic Gardens during a routine survey in 2020, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday.


“The plant later flowered in cultivation and bore small, pendulous, cream-yellow flowers, which differed from the upright, bright green flower of the Claderia viridiflora,” the board added.

“Leontocampus” is Greek for “Merlion”.

Before the new orchid species was discovered, the orchid genus Claderia had only two known species – the Claderia viridiflora and Claderia papuana.

The Claderia leontocampus grows locally in old secondary lowland forests, on well-drained soil, and can also be found in Sumatra, Indonesia, and in Peninsular Malaysia, said NParks.

The new species had been recorded only twice in an eight-year period of Claderia population recording – in 2020 and 2022 – as compared to Claderia viridiflora, which has been recorded seven times.

“Its population size is unknown as the species is likely to be under-recorded due to its near-identical appearance to (the) Claderia viridiflora when sterile,” said the agency.


The last discovery of a new orchid species was of the Nervilia singaporensis by the Gardens’ researchers in 2019 at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, added the board.

The orchid genus Nervilia was previously thought to be extinct in Singapore.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said it is “heartening” to see new discoveries continue to be made in Singapore, even for widely-studied plant groups such as orchids.

“Such efforts continue the tradition of the Gardens’ researchers leading the study of our native plant species, and affirm the importance of our conservation strategies in safeguarding the rich biodiversity of our city in nature,” said Mr Lee.

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TAGS: flowers, orchids, Singapore

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