Taiwan’s newly developed hybrid orchids win major prizes

TAIPEI (CNA) – Three unique hybrid orchids developed by the Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station have won four prizes at an international orchid show in Taiwan for their exotic appearance and fragrance.

The three winning flowers, hybrids of the foxtail orchid and the moth orchid, brought out the best of each orchid using technology that Taiwan’s top competitor in the field, the Netherlands, does not have.

The moth orchid is treasured for its beauty and Taiwan’s most exported orchid, but Weng I-szu (翁一司), an assistant research fellow at the Kaohsiung research station, said it generally lacks fragrance.

The few breeds of moth orchid that are fragrant have small petals and cannot satisfy the commercial requirement of at least 10 flowers per stem, Weng said.

So the Kaohsiung research station decided to introduce the gene of the highly fragrant foxtail orchid into the moth orchid using technology that only Taiwan has to develop the hybrids combining the best of the two breeds.

The results earned honors at the 2019 Taiwan International Orchid Show in Tainan that runs until March 11.

The Kdares Perfume Dancer, a cross-breed that can bear at least 10 flowers per stem, won a silver medal for all entries at the show and the top prize in the “Other Orchids” category (Group D) because of its stunning appearance and strong fragrance.

The white-flowered Kdares Perfume Girl and the Kdares Perfume Ballet, with a yellow leaf and red spot, both won third prize in Group D, for their beautiful colors, elegant look and fragrance.

Sung Pin-hui (宋品慧), another assistant research fellow at the Kaohsiung research station, said some domestic orchid traders have confidence in the new species’ market potential, believing they can sell them at a price of NT$10,000 per pot.

Exporters are looking forward to the station transferring the technology to private interests, seeing it as a way to enhance the international competitiveness of Taiwan’s orchids, she said.

Currently, Taiwan exports about US$100 million in orchids a year, most of which are the moth orchid. Half of the exports go to the United States, and about 20-30 percent go to Japan, and 10 percent to Europe and Australia, according to Sung.

In the past few years, the Kaohsiung research station has developed almost 70 new species through hybridization and embryo rescue technologies, including the Kdares Orange Girl, Kdares Perfume Angel, Kdares Perfume Beauty and Amenopsis Kaohsiung Magic.

By Yang Su-min and Emerson Lim