Paraphalaenopsis labukensis – 365 days of orchids – day 1199


Paraphalaenopsis is a genus just four species endemic to Borneo, and since this is the first time it has flowered since our recent visits to Sarawak in July and October last year, we have taken more interest in this beautiful and unusual species.

Paraphalaenopsis labukensis comes from near the Labuk river where it grows as an epiphyte from 500 to 1000m altitude. The Labuk river is in Sabah, the adjacent state to Sarawak in the north east of the island of Borneo and about 500 miles from our explorations in Mulu national park. We can therefore expect a habitat similar to several we visited, warm and wet throughout the year.

The species has variable flower colour from yellow to dark brown and on first flowering we are really pleased with the colour of our flowers. The flowers also have a twist on the petals and sepals – we think that is probably to help advertise the flowers in all directions. The leaves are long and thin, so far only 80cm long but apparently over 2m when the plant is fully mature. A basket is great to accommodate the pendulous habit and the plant is well suited to conditions in our Warm Asia section.

Terete leaves are often the sign of a species adapted to dry climates but observing terete leaved species in Sarawak we found that they were generally in more open forest (often due to limited soils) rather than dryer habitats. We have experimented with our paraphalaenopsis, and it actually seems to prefer good shade. It would be interesting to know if anyone has field observations of the species in habitat.

The name refers to the similarity between the flowers of these and Phalaenopsis but they are actually very distinct and a real point of interest.



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  1. Agnes Jones says:

    Today started wonderfully by learning all about Paraphalaenopsis, orchid of the day. I have spent the rest of the day in my front garden pruning roses, shrubs and cleaning windows. I have been very struck by how clean the air has become since lockdown. It was an absolute pleasure to be outside with only a few passing cars and most people cycling or walking. Wouldn’t it be great if people learn from lockdown, see the beneficial impact it is having on the environment and stopped using their cars for unnecessary journeys!

    With respect to my windows they were very dirty and now sparkling clean but I still can’t see out of them because I have too many orchids in the way!