Devon Orchid Society talk – “Spring Orchids in the Greenhouse and the Wild” Simon Pugh-Jones

Devon Orchid Society has generously offered to welcome guests to tomorrows talk – here is the link below and message from Colin Hughes. The Society is very active and they host great shows and meetings. Do feel free to become a member.
Hello everyone.
Below is the link to our meeting on Sunday 18th April which we are holding online via Zoom. Clicking on the link will get you into the waiting room and then we will let you in to the meeting. You will be able to join from 1.45pm. Please join a good time to allow the meeting to start promptly at 2pm.

Topic: DOS meeting
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 727 1202 7285

After any notices, Simon Pugh-Jones will be giving us a live talk from the greenhouses at Writhlington School entitled “Spring Orchids in the Greenhouse and the Wild”, and then Saul Walker will present the April table show.
As usual everyone will be muted once the meeting gets under way but there will be opportunities for questions and comments after Simon’s talk and during and after the table show. Or the chat function can be used at any time.


Phalaenopsis mannii ‘flava’ – 365 days of orchids – day 1573

We have another Phalaenopsis species today. This is the variety of Phalaenopsis mannii with no red pigment, so similar to the ‘alba’ varieties of many species that don’t have a yellow flower ground colour.

We also have the normal variety of Phalaenopsis mannii in flower (below) and it is really interesting to compare the two.

We have seen Phalaenopsis mannii in lowland forest on several of our trips to the Himalayas, seeing it in Kalimpong, Sikkim and Assam, but we have never come across a ‘flava’ in the wild. It is always a treat to explore the natural variation of orchid species when you come across wild populations, and orchids are wonderfully variable. Keep an eye out for diverse varieties of native British orchids over the next few months, such as in these Dorset Anacamptis morios.

Getting back to Phalaenopsis mannii, the best plant we have seen in the wild was growing in Nameri National Park, one of Assam’s fantastic Tiger reserves. (see photo below)

The photo clearly shows the natural habitat for the plant. The forest is seasonally dry forest and there is not sufficient rainfall or humidity for moss to grow on the branches colonised by the orchid. This plant is in the lowest branches of a large evergreen tree where light levels are quite low and it is protected from extreme desiccation in the dry season. The photograph also shows the very extensive root system this massive plant has developed over time (it must be at least twenty years old) and this will store a lot of water during dry periods as well as collecting a lot of water when it does rain.

We are pleased that our ‘flava’ with three flower spikes is beginning to form the specimen clump that this wild plant so effectively shows mannii loves to become.


Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi – 365 days of orchids – day 1572

This wonderful Phalaenopsis species is flowering on four spikes simultaneously today.

Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi is almost always in flower with its successive flowers produces from branched flattened flower stems, and the flower stems can flower for several years. This is great for interest in the greenhouse but you need a specimen like our plant here with several spikes to get a lot of flowers at once.

The species is found in Malaysia and the Philippines and lives in deep shade in lowland hot forests. We grow the species in our warm Asia section with a minimum of 17C though it would appreciate a little more heat in the winter when our plants tend to take a little rest from growing.

Phalaenoipsis cornu-cervi is a very variable species and the clone flowering in the greenhouse is at the redder end of the range and has wider than average petals. A more common form is the striped yellow and red flowers of the plant we found in Sarawak (below)

All of the clones are beautiful, and with plants being compact growers too, this is a wonderful species to grow.



Bifrenaria harrisoniae – 365 days of orchids – day 1571

More fragrance in the greenhouse today with Bifrenaria harrisoniae, a contender for our most fragrant species. We have several plants and they will be flowering through April and May.

The species, which has been a firm favourite since Victorian times, has thick waxy flowers that are long lasting if kept dry. If you are into scented plants, you just must grow this species. It is a real shame that we can’t provide scent with our photos here – you just have to be in our Cool Americas section.

Bifrenaria harrisoniae is native to the Mata Atlantica, Brazil, and in 2000 our expedition came across it growing on a bare granite mountain side West of Nova Friburgo.

As the photo shows, plants are growing in full sun with their roots holding firmly to the rock and very little around the plant to retain moisture. This rock was dry in the winter when we visited but would be running with water for much of the wet summer season. After seeing the plant in the wild we adjusted our growing of the species to give more light but keep cool temperatures (the altitude was around 1000m) and we grow plants in the unshaded south facing doorway of the Cool Americas section.

The habitat also sheds light on the why the species choses April both to flower and release seed. In April the climate here is still dry meaning that flowers will remain undamaged until pollinated and seed released now will be able to blow across the dry habitat. In a months time there will be heavy rains, providing water for the new growths, the maturing seed pods and the germinating seedlings.

We have large numbers of seedlings in our lab and we will be offering more of this lovely species later in the month.


Bulbophyllum stenobulbon – 365 days of orchids – day 1570

When it comes to number of flowers, nothing can touch our Bulbophyllum stenobulbon this week

Bulbophyllum stenobulbon is found through South East Asia and as far west as Assam. It produces masses of quite small flowers from the base of new and old pseudobulbs and so gives a lovely display. It also tends to flower twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer, making it a very worthwhile species to grow.

It is reported to grow as a lithophyte in moss from 500-800m altitude in warm forest but we find that it is not fussy about temperature and grows happily in Warm Asia (min 18C, Cool Asia (min 10C) or Cool Americas (min 12C) but it does seem fussy about light preferring to grow in shade and with plenty of water reflecting its microhabitat.

We grow the species in pots, mounted and in baskets – this plant here is in a 10cm basket but is now 50cm across.