New Orchid Species Discovered in PH: A Tribute to Two Pioneers of Citizen Science


Two new orchid species in the Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed Forest Reserve (PCWFR) in Nueva Ecija were named early this week in a scientific article published by the Nordic Journal of Botany of the Lund University in Sweden.

The Philippine Taxonomic Initiative, Inc. (PTI), a research team composed of Filipino scientists, discovered the two orchid species which they named Bulbophyllum barcelonae and Bulbophyllum pelseri, after two prominent botanists for their contributions to citizen science: science research by and for people of all walks of life. The researchers said their discovery highlights the rich biodiversity of the PCWFR and the need to grant this area formal protection to safeguard its plants and animals.

The newly discovered 𝘉𝘶𝘭𝘣𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘭𝘭𝘶𝘮 pelseri named after Dr. Pieter B. Pelser. (Photo courtesy of Raab Bustamante)

The researchers included Abigail L. Garrino, Jayson A. Mansibang, Yu Pin Ang, Leonardo Udasco, Jean Marie Diego, John Charles Altomonte, Lie zel Molina-Magtoto, Jamie Ann M. Aumentado, Maverick N. Tamayo, and Rene Alfred Anton Bustamante.


Dr. Pelser and Dr. Barcelona are well-respected botanists who have dedicated their lives to training new Filipino scientists. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Barcelona via FB)

The two newly discovered orchid species were named in honor of Dr. Julie F. Barcelona and Dr. Pieter B. Pelser from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand for their significant contributions to citizen science and Philippine botany through their online documentation of Philippine plants, named Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines (


Lisa Paguntalan, Executive Director of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc., said naming the two orchids after Dr. Barcelona and Dr. Pelser acknowledges the fact that these botanists “dedicate their lives to plant systematics and conservation by providing an accessible online platform as a reference forto plant identification, training Filipino taxonomists and promoting citizen science in identifying plants. Sharing their knowledge and skills has significantly increased our knowledge and understanding of plants and plant conservation.” 


The discovery of the two new orchid species resulted from research by PTI, a non-profit and non-government organization. The PTI’s goal is to help locals document their plant biodiversity, and scientists (taxonomists) gain the skills they need to identify and discover new  species in their natural habitats.

𝘉𝘶𝘭𝘣𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘺𝘭𝘭𝘶𝘮 𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘦 was named after Dr. Julie F. Barcelona. (Photo courtesy of Raab Bustamante)

The PTI seeks to identify accessible, intact biodiversity-rich areas such as the PCWFR for surveying the local flora, conduct these surveys, and train local botanists in field research techniques. Their ongoing studies have already uncovered over a dozen new species across seven genera in the region, including the Bulbophyllum orchids, Ardisia kalimbahin, Begonia naema, and Amorphophallus minimus.


The Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed Forest Reserve (PCWFR) is a critical conservation area found in the upper reaches of the Upper Pampanga River Basin (UPRB). It is a significant biosphere for Central Luzon’s agricultural economy, a wellspring of renewable energy, and a buffer against the climate crisis. However, several pressures threaten the PCWFR, such as worsening climate-related events and deforestation, drastically hampering restoration initiatives and increasing species vulnerability.

The discovery resulted in a better understanding of the PCWFR’s important biodiversity inventory and supporting forest conservation management initiatives.

The newly published paper can be accessed at