We are delighted to have lots of our miniature species flowering this week in time for the Christmas orchid festival next Saturday. One of our most reliable miniatures is this tiny vandaceous species from South East Asia and Malaysia so is another of our Sarawak Orchid Species.
The species grows in low montane and hill forest from 300-1300m and so it is very at home in our Warm Asia section. We grow this species on a small piece of cork bark as you can see in the photo. This shows the plant off in a natural way and stops it getting smothered by moss. We spray it with water once a day.
The flower is tiny but very attractive as long as you have good eye sight or a macro lens. We guess it must be pollinated by a gnat or a tiny ant as it is close to the stem. Flowers are produced throughout the year and are always a point of interest. We are pleased that the plants here has started to produce side shoots and so is slowly heading towards becoming a specimen.
Todays orchid brings back lovely memories of our recent visit to Sarawak where we saw this species growing in lowland forest near the coast at Bako National Park(below)
The forest here was quite open but Cleisostoma subulatum was growing low down on tree trunks and lower branches in shade. Cleisostoma is a lovely genus and plants have very diverse leaves but very similar flowers. The flowers all have their spurs protruding from their buds well before they open.
Cleisostoma subulatum is a medium sized plant that can grow really large over time, as some of the plants at Bako had, with long pendulous spikes of small flowers that open successively. The species is found from Sikkim in the Himalayas through South east Asia to Malaysia and the Philippines where it grows as an epiphyte in lowland forest up to 500m altutide.
The team arriving at Bako (below) with the forest home of Cleisostoma subulatum at the top of the beach.
We think that Writhlington and Mendip are the only schools in the uk to have a nose flute orchestra (or is that orchidstra!)
inspired by the Penan in Sarawak, year 10 student Ed Jones has started making bamboo nose flutes based on the traditional Penan design.
The nose flute orchestra will be playing at the Christmas Orchid Festival on 14th December and nose flutes will be for sale to raise money for the Penan village school in Mulu as well.
We have been out with the close up lens today to get a good shot of one of our iconic miniatures. Lepanthopsis astrophora has leaves less than 1cm long and relatively long spikes of tiny flowers each of which is a perfect purple star (hence the name). The flowers are long lasting and the species is in flower for most of the year although this month is particularly good for the tiny purple flowers – don’t miss it at the Christmas orchid Festival on 14th December.
The species is native to cloud forests in Venezuela and we find it succeeds mounted in a shady spot and sprayed daily. It is a good idea to keep a magnifying glass handy so that visitors can wonder at the lovely little flowers.
Our Christmas Orchid Festival will be a chance to find out everything about our recent trip to Borneo (from the students who took part) as well as a chance to buy the perfect Christmas present, explore the orchid greenhouses and learn how to grow these amazing plants at home. The photo above shows our party with students from MRSM School, Kuching, on Mount Santubong.