Daily Inspiration 07-10-2015

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New Siam tulip species created in Taiwan

The Council of Agriculture of China (COA) recently said it has bred a new species of Siam tulip in the hopes of reinvigorating the local flower industry and developed a paper test kit for detecting orchid viruses.

Native to Thailand and introduced to Taiwan in the late 1970s, the Siam tulip, or Curcuma alismatifolia, is not related to the tulip, but to various ginger species, such as turmeric, the council said, adding that the Siam tulip gets its name from its tulip-like flowering pattern and is one of the most ornamental flowers of the various ginger species; commonly sold as a cut flower that can last for more than 10 days.

The Siam tulip industry in Taiwan bloomed following the introduction of a pink-flowering variety in the late 1970s, but the industry has declined and the flower’s planting areas have reduced to about 5 hectares, the council said.

The decline has been linked to extreme weather and serious plant diseases, which have reduced the flower’s quality and farmers’ revenue, the council said, adding that the species available on the market have gradually lost their popularity and are generally only used as religious offerings.

To revive the industry, the council’s Kaohsiung District Agricultural Research and Extension Station has developed a new method of growing Siam tulips in off-ground planters in indoor facilities to reduce pest contact and boost petal quality. The station has also bred a new species of the flower that it says is better adapted to pot culture.

The new species would be named in the near future, after which the council is to develop and promote products based on it.

Separately, the council has developed a screening technology to diagnose orchid pathogens and antigens, which has been transferred to a private biotechnology firm to develop a paper test kit.

The council said it had developed seven kinds of orchid virus reagents, which have been used to screen orchid seeds and seedlings, as well as inspect exported plants.

Taiwan’s orchid industry is a competitive export sector and an elaborate division of labor has been developed: including seed conservation; systematic culturing and taming of wild orchid species; planting management; packaging and marketing, the council said, adding thatthe new testing kit would improve the supply chain and boost the industry’s competitiveness.

The council said that testing could become an industry given the technologies and patents that Taiwan has developed.