365 days of orchids – day 304 – Coelogyne barbata


Barbata means ‘bearded’ and the bearded coelogyne is a truly spectacular thing. This plant has been growing in Cool Asia since 1998 and is rapidly becoming a specimen plant. This year there are eleven spikes each with about ten large flowers. The dark brown ‘beard’ on the lip is probably an evolutionary adaption to limit access to just one species of bee to increase the chances of successful cross pollination.

The plant grows in a large basket and is kept wet in the summer and damp in the winter to reflect the habitat which is wet evergreen monsoon forest from Nepal to Southern China. We haven’t seen this species in Sikkim but we have visited the habitat (1000-1800m) where coelogynes are abundant.

We have just sown seed from flowers pollinated in November 2016 and there are still seed pods on the plant. This is a reminder of the time taken to grow orchids from seed – one year from pollination to sowing, two years in-vitro and then between three and eight years growing to big enough to flower – well worth the wait though.


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