Our smelliest orchid is in flower and this time has two large flower spikes each with about 18 large, unusual and very stinky flowers.
Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis is native to lowland forests in New Guinea where it grows as an epiphyte in deep shade. It has several remarkable characteristics including the enormous leaves. Our plant’s longest leaf measures 90cm long and at the base of each leaf is a stout compressed pseudobulb.
The flowers are even stranger than the leaves and mimic meat to attract female carrion flies looking for a good spot to lay their eggs.It has been suggested that the yellow hairs on the red flowers mimic maggots crawling out of meat! – nice concept.
The flowers have a reputation as the smelliest of any orchid species and they do really stink. The flowers have a really foul smell of dead things but you have to get fairly close for it to become too much to bare.
The flowers large red flowers do not open very far, presumably to make the pollinating flies force their way inside and inside they are a glorious deep blood red.
After pollinating the flowers and looking at them closely we have found that the smell does follow us around rather – what a treat!
We grow the species in a basket hanging in Warm Asia (min 17C) and we water throughout the year.