Discover the Undiscovered
Sabah’s rainforest is blessed with an astonishing variety of flora. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, this state is home to the world’s most diversified natural wonder, especially in its collection of wild orchids. On Mount Kinabalu alone, more than 870 wild orchid species can be found. What makes it truly special is the fact that it is also home to the most expensive orchid in the world. This wild orchid species is a truly hidden gem of nature endemic to the Kinabalu Park and not to be found in any other state.
World Recognition, Most Expensive
Meet the world’s most valuable and rare orchid species, Paphiopedilum Rothschildianum or also known as Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid. The Guinness Book of World Records has acknowledged Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid as the world’s most expensive orchid. It is in fact the world’s most expensive flower, whereby each stem of this orchid can be worth up to USD5,000! Due to its high value, it is considered as the most iconic and horticulturally sought after species amongst the orchid enthusiast.
An Orchid with Many Names
Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid has quite a few names. Local Sabahan people call it the Sumazau Orchid as the petals of the flower resemble the outspread arms of a Sumazau dancer performing the popular traditional Sumazau Kadazan dance of Sabah. It has also earned the nickname Gold of Kinabalu for its high value and rarity, difficult to find even in the Kinabalu National Park.
One of a Kind Beauty
Undeniably expensive, Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid is stunning and exquisitely beautiful. The thin stem of a Sumazau orchid can hold horizontally up to six large flowers, giving it a very distinctive appearance. Its red colour and unique appearance makes it breathtakingly beautiful. And the fact that it takes up to 15 years to take bloom makes Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid precious and rare indeed.
Based on research done by Sabah Wildlife Department, Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid only grows on the slope of Mount Kinabalu, between 500 to 1,200 meters in altitude. Commonly known as a terrestrial, Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid is typically found on the forest floor in areas with dark-coloured soil that contains a high level of heavy metal compounds. Still, some of the species also can be lithophytes which feed off nutrients from rain water and nearby decaying plants, where it is usually found growing in or on rocks of a cliff and near a river.
Endangered and Overprotected
Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid is a hidden gem in natural wonder. This gem is more valuable than diamonds or jewels. It is a gift from nature. Now, it is on the edge of extinction. According to Sabah Wildlife Department, Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid becomes endangered due to over-collecting in the past and the loss of forest to development. Strict enforcement and regulations are being imposed in order to protect this valuable orchid. Conservation area and education are important in creating awareness amongst people in appreciating the nature’s beauty.