It must be nearly Easter as Dendrobium fimbriatum is flowering in our Warm Asia section.
Dendrobium fimbriatum is an orchid we have seen growing abundantly in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in semi-deciduous trees in warm lowland forests up to about 1000m. In the wild it makes large dramatic specimens.
The photos above show it flowering a tree next to the main road to Gangtok not far from the River Teesta at about 400m above sea level (It is in the centre of the photo half way up the middle tree). The habitat here is semi evergreen forest with a distinct dry season.
Flowers are produced in small sprays of about ten flowers from along the leafless pseudobulbs from two to five years old (so don’t cut off old bulbs until they are completely dead). Its native habitat is warm and wet in the summer but distinctly dryer in the winter with a significant drop in temperature from the summer and so we find the species responds well to moving to our Cool Asia section (minimum 10C) for a few weeks in January before moving back to its normal spot in Warm Asia (minimum 17C) where it then flowers.
In Sikkim we have noticed that large plants collect a lot of dead leaves in their crowns which presumably provide additional nutrient to plants and we find that the species responds well to lots of feed and water in the summer and quickly grows long pseudobulbs. The thin leaves of the species are attractive to red spider mite and scale insects so keep an eye out for pests.
Epidendrum stamfordianum reminds me of our wonderful school expedition to Belize where we found this dramatic and large growing species flowering profusely in warm forests near the Caribbean coast in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.
We found Epidendrum stamfordianum growing as a very large epiphyte in mature secondary forests. In the photograph below you can see around ten long arching sprays of yellow flowers.
Close ups of the Belize flowers show them to be very similar in colouring to our school plant. With wonderful spotting and deep pink highlights around the column.
Epidendrum stamfordianum is an unusual member of the genus in producing flower spikes from the base of the leading pseudobulbs. This presents the flowers underneath the leaves which makes sense when you see plants in the wild with flowers easily accessible to the large butterflies that pollinate the species. The range of the species runs from Mexixo in the North to Venezuela in the South and it is generally found in seasonally dry forests characteristic of the lowland forests of Belize that we explored on our visit. This habitat is a harsh environment for seedling establishment and populations are dominated by very long lived large specimen plants. In cultivation the plant is straight forward but enjoys a bright location in the roof of our Warm Americas section.
This magnificent orchid is dominating our Warm Asia section this week. Our largest plant of Dendrobium thyrsiflorum is more than 2m across (see Otto for scale) and has 23 flower spikes each with around twenty lovely cream and orange/yellow flowers.
Can any orchid species compare with the wow factor of Dendrobium thyrsiflorum. We have different clones, one grows longer bulbs with longer thinner racemes of flowers while the second is stouter growing. When flowering really well the species is breathtaking.
This majestic species is native to Eastern Himalayas and South East Asia. We have seen it on school expeditions to Laos growing in the tops of tall trees in evergreen and semi deciduous forest at around 1000m where it experiences warm wet summers and a dryer cooler winter.
To reflect the natural habitat we grow the species in Warm Asia during the summer but move it to cool Americas for the winter which encourages perfect flowering as you can see from the photos.
This month we have already introduced you to two of our diverse Cattleya intermedia plants. Here are the four currently flowering – what a lovely range.
This is a more common form of this Brazilian species
An all white alba form
An orlata form
and coerulea form.
Hooray for diversity within a species.
This is one of our iconic miniatures. Lepanthopsis astrophora has leaves less than 1cm long and relatively long spikes of tiny flowers each of which is a perfect purple star (hence the name). The flowers are long lasting and the species is in flower for most of the year although this month plants are looking particularly good with clouds of the tiny purple flowers
The species is native to cloud forests in Venezuela and we find it succeeds mounted in a shady spot and sprayed daily. It is a good idea to keep a magnifying glass handy so that visitors can wonder at the lovely little flowers.
The plant shown has 44 flower spikes in flower or in bud – not bad for an orchid on a cork mount 5cmx3cm. The species is a real favourite of our orchid project students.
Caitline says “It would make a great badge”, Tallis suggests “or a fascinator”, while according to Harris ‘It looks like a fleet of alien spaceships in a sci-fi movie.”
I think that they are all correct, a lovely little plant with a good name.