WSBEorchids

365 days of orchids – day 509 – Gomesa crispa

   

This is a Brazilian species that we found growing abundantly the forests around Macae de Cima in our expeditions in 2000 and 2005. Gomesa crispa is a pioneer species that is one of the first epiphytes to establish in regrowth forest as soon as humidity is high enough for moss to grow at the base of the trunks of young trees the plant will establish in this moss as a very low level epiphyte just 10cm off the ground. It also grows in more mature forest and in elfin forest on mountain ridges.

The flowers are a yellow/green colour but very attractively crisped (hence the name) and a healthy plant produces a very long spikes and usually two spikes from each bulb (see photo)

We grow this species successfully in both Cool Americas and Warm Americas but we find it does best grown in Warm Americas which is a little warmer and dryer than its natural habitat perhaps reflecting its liking for regrowth forest.

The photo here from our 2005 trip to Brazil shows the natural habitat for the species in relatively open regrowth forest with young trees.

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365 days of orchids – day 508 – Dendrobium aphyllum

 

This deciduous dendrobium is an orchid we have seen regularly in our visits to Sikkim. It is a warm growing species and grows on the same trees as Vanda ampulacea from 200m to about 900m altitude. It also grows as a lithophyte on large boulders and cliffs.

The species is very pendulous with long thin canes that grow with lush light green leaves during the very wet summer from April to September. Plants then drop all of the leaves and remain leafless until flowering. We grow the species in Warm Asia for the summer and then move it to the roof of Cool America for the winter when we avoid spraying it with water once the leaves have been dropped.

Over time the plant can form a large clump as shown by this magnificent specimen near the road to Gangtok in Sikkim. You may just be able to see the bright pink of Vanda ampulacea on the opposite side of the tree from the dendrobium.

 

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365 days of orchids – day 507 – Encyclia bractescens

This is a small growing delicate little Encyclia. The species comes from Central America and we have seen it in Belize a few miles inland from Belize city. Encyclias are Laelineae and so related to Cattleyas and Laelias that tend to have tall pseudobulbs and thick stiff leaves. Encyclia bractescens is something of an exception with thin grass like leaves and small pseudobulbs. The long lasting flowers are large for the size of plant and although it seems slow to multiply up to being a specimen it is a rewarding plant to grow.

In Belize we found it growing as an epiphyte in regrowth forest in one of the villages that form the Community Baboon Sanctuary http://www.belizehowlermonkeys.org/ which is actually a sanctuary set up more that 25 years ago with WWF support that set up skeleton forest in a group of villages in Belize. Skeleton forest is continuous forest shared with villagers who all keep 50 yeard of forest at the edge of their land. Although called a Baboon reserve it is aimed at protecting Black Howler Monkeys which we have met and enjoyed watching (and hearing) in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Belize.

We saw Black Howler Monkeys in the reserve (see below) and lots of Orchids too. If you protect habitat for one species than all the biodiversity benefits.

One of the orchid was Encyclia bractescens growing as an epiphyte on the truck of a small tree in fairly open forest and dappled shade (shown nicely on our photograph). The altitude was around 100m above sea level.

 Flowering in Belize.

We grow this species in Warm Americas in a basket to give good drainage though we water well during the summer (wet season in Belize)

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365 days of orchids – day 506 – Cattleya warneri ‘alba’

 

We have lots of South American cattleya species coming into flower in the greenhouse this week and on of the most dramatic is Cattleya warneri ‘alba’. This is a unifoliate cattleya (one leaved) and has very typical cattleya flowers which are large and frilly.

The species is endemic to Brazil where it is found as an epiphyte in warm forest on the Atlantic coast. The plants have stout relatively short club shaped bulbs and these produce really big flowers. The flowers photographed are 20cm across.

The leaves of this species can go a yellow colour if grown too bright in the summer and so we hang the species a little lower in the greenhouse (Warm Americas) than some of its relatives.

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365 days of orchids – day 505 – Pleurothallis sclerophyla

This is one of our favourite pleurothallis species and it is looking just amazing this morning. It comes from Brazil and produces a dramatic display when its long spike of spidery flowers in such profusion that they hide the leaves of the plant.

We have seen the species flowering in Brazil where we found it growing abundantly of mountain ridges at around 1200m in cloud forest.

This photograph of the species near Macae de Cima shows a plant growing in the trunk of a tree in moist forest with a fair amount of moss on most trees and additional humidity coming from the large amount of bromeliads present in the habitat. The photo shows old spikes as well as new and the habit of flowering for many years from the same leaf axil explains the dramatic flowering display give by mature plants like our one in the school greenhouse.

Cool Americas gives a close match with the native habitat – cool (min 12C) , moist, and shaded. We find the species does very well mounted.

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