I have a real soft spot for the wonderful orchid species we have come across in our school expeditions to tropical forests and Bulbophyllum lilacium is a great reminder of our visits to Laos.
We came across Bulbophyllum lilacium on our first visit to Laos in 2005 with it’s distinct habit of bulbs separated by a long rhizome that let the plant wrap itself around the trunks of large trees and finally in 2011 we found it in flower in open regrowth forest near Paksong (see photo below)
The arching dense flowers are really attractive and are pinky (the name means lilac bulbophyllum). The plant here is growing in good light at 1000m altitude where it experiences warm wet summers, cool dry winters and a hot dry spring. We find that our seedling of the species has flourished in our Warm Asia section and now flowers every year.
As you can see the species has a long rhizome between bulbs which makes it a little inconvenient to grow and we find it suits baskets or cork mounts where it can be encouraged to wrap around its home – just like the one on its Lao tree.