As we move towards the end of lockdown – all our students are back to school tomorrow for their covid tests – international travel still seems a long way off. At least with today’s orchid we can travelling to the warm monsoon forests of the Himalayan foothills.
Phalaenopsis manii is a species we have met in lowland forest on several of our trips to the Himalayas, seeing it in Kalimpong, Sikkim and Assam. The best plant we have seen was growing in Nameri National Park, one of Assam’s fantastic Tiger reserves. (see photo below) These forests seem a long way away from lockdown UK but we will be back in that wonderful part of the world one day.
The photo clearly shows the natural habitat for the plant. The forest is seasonally dry forest and there is not sufficient rainfall or humidity for moss to grow on the branches colonised by the orchid. This plant is in the lowest branches of a large evergreen tree where light levels are quite low and it is protected from extreme desiccation in the dry season. The photograph also shows the very extensive root system this massive plant has developed over time (it must be at least twenty years old) and this will store a lot of water during dry periods as well as collecting a lot of water when it does rain.
It is also noticeable that in common with most Phalaenopsis species P. mannii has a pendulous habit which will prevent water resting in new leaves and causing rots. We grow our school plant in a pendulous way by letting it lean out of its basket. It clearly loves to grow like this and is now starting to form a clump a little similar to the wonderful specimen in Assam.