This is a very free flowering and rewarding Bulbophyllum found from the Himalayas across to Vietnam in evergreen monsson forest from 800 to 2000m. We know this habitat well from our travels in Sikkim with its warm wet summers. The winters are dryer but plants would not experience long periods with no moisture and so keep their rather soft lush leaves. We water plants throughout the year and find they grow well both in pots and baskets. As the range of the plant indicates the species is not too fussy about temperature and with us grows in and of our sections with minimum temperatures above 10C though it seems to marginally prefer the warmest temperatures of Warm Asia. It may be that our clone has its genetic origins in the lower altitudinal range.
Today was our second day working at the Eden Project. We started the morning off by helping to feed the Rulrul birds who live in the tropical biome. We then helped to remove some old leaves from the banana plants and did some weeding the in Malaysian area. We spent the afternoon planting two orchids, Prosthechea cochleata and Bulbophyllum lobii, in a tree in the biome.
This large flowered Coelogyne is native to Malaysia, Borneo, Java and Sumatra where it is reported from 700-2000m altitude. This variety has more white on the lip than is usual and a light green flower colour where the more usual colour is variations of yellow and brown.
We grow the species in Warm Asia (min 18C) although its range indicates that it could be grown cooler. Each short flower stem produces two or three flowers that bllom successively but as you can see a mature plant produces flowers from several bulbs at once and gives a lovely display.
We keep the species well watered throughout the year. It produces the odd flower at anytime through the year but the main flowering is in the summer.
The large hairy lip is well worth a close inspection. The species is probably pollinated by large bees.
Last week students from Mendip Studio and Writhlington Schools hosted a visit by US scientist Tom Mirenda from the Smithsonian Institution.
Tom is director of horticulture and education at the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden and came to learn from the experience of students at the Writhlington Orchid Project.
After meeting students and touring the propagation laboratories in the Mendip Studio School Tom gave a fascinating lecture to students and staff on recent research into pollination biology.
Tom is very keen to share the experience of Students at Mendip Studio and Writhlington Schools and to use the work as a model for education and conservation projects internationally. Provisional plans were agreed for a tour of the United States by students and potential joint conservation and science projects between the Mendip Studio School and the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden.
It was a pleasure hosting Tom’s visit and I am very excited about the opportunities for students through our joint projects with Hawaii over the next few years.
Charlotte and I arrived at the Eden Project today where we will be doing work experience for the week. So far today we have had a tour around the rainforest biome and have helped to check for fallen branches from the trees. We will keep you updated on what we do throughout the week.