While we are away in Borneo the greenhouse is being managed by our Cool Asia team – Alexandra. Ellie and Lily. You can almost see them behind this week’s prize orchid 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 20 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.