TSUKUBA, Ibaraki Prefecture--Thought to be extinct for almost eight decades, a rare orchid in the Ogasawara island chain south of Tokyo is blooming again at a botanical garden here to the amazement of botanists.

Researchers with the National Museum of Nature and Science said the flower was produced by the “shimakumokiriso” (Liparis hostifolia) orchid species, which has been raised at the museum’s Tsukuba Botanical Garden.

It grew out of one of several stumps discovered on Minami-Iwojima island in the Ogasawara chain earlier this year.

“I never expected to be able to view the actual flower in my lifetime,” said Tomohisa Yukawa, a botanist with the museum.

The existence of the shimakumokiriso was first confirmed on Chichijima island, about 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, in 1916, according to Yukawa.

It was later identified as a rare species of the orchid indigenous to the subtropical island chain, a World Natural Heritage site.

The last time the species on Chichijima was reported collected was 1938.

Scientists feared that the indigenous orchid might have become extinct on the island as its habitat was lost due to development.

But an expedition team from the Tokyo metropolitan government and other institutions collected several stumps of the species in June, when they visited Minami-Iwojima island in the Ogasawara chain.

The stumps were taken to the museum’s garden in Tsukuba to be cultivated.

One grew to 12 centimeters in height and with two leaves. One of seven buds that specific stump produced came into flower on Nov. 16, according to Yukawa. Another is close to flowering.

The orchid flower from Minami-Iwojima comprises six petals with the largest measuring about 1 centimeter in length and width.

The flower is green overall and bears purple streaks.

Yukawa said he and his colleagues had never seen the flower from the particular orchid even in a photo. The next challenge for researchers will be harvesting seeds from the flower, he said.