Question – Why should you visit the Writhlington Greenhouses in the middle of the night? Answer – To enjoy the intoxicating scent of the wonderful orchid. (actually, there is plenty of scent in the day time too)
Angraecum magdalenae from the mountains of central Madagascar is one of our most rewarding orchid species. The large (8cm) waxy, pristine white flowers are wonderfully fragrant and this year the plant is covered in buds and so should be flowering for the next two months or so.
The plant’s natural habitat is in leaf litter amongst quartzite boulders but we find the species enjoys a mossy basket where its roots remain damp and cool. Most of our Angraecum species are warm growing but Angraecum magdalenae does best for us in Cool Asia (minimum 10C) where it is slowly growing into a real specimen with flowers which contrast beautifully with the dark green leaves.
We are delighted to have thousands of seeds of this species doing very well in our propagation lab and will have plants for sale in flask within 12 months. The flowers hold their nectar in long curved spurs suggesting pollination is by one of Madagascar’s large hawk moths.
This week orchid project students will be learning how to test seed viability using the TZ test (look out for experiment posts and results during the week), and Angraecum magdalenae poses a bit of a problem as the seeds of the species are the darkest seeds we have come across. We will be experimenting with bleaching the seeds to help with recording viability results.