Our most dramatic species this week has to be this wonderful Dendrochilum with its 60 spikes of deep red flowers.
Dendrochilum javierense is a small growing dendrochilum with narrow stiff leaves and the more upright flower stems than most of the related species we grow.
The species is native to the Philippines where it grows in mossy forest above 1200m and so in culture we grow the plants damp all year. We grow the species in our Warm Asia section which it seems to enjoy although it would grow cooler. Our Cool Asia section we find a little too cool for it.
Another fragrant orchid today with this dramatic species from South America.
We have seen this species growing in Brazil at around 1200m altitude in road banks in the mountains and as a terrestrial in grassy and scrubby areas like that shown below. Here it is not really growing in soil but a loose mix of leaf litter and moss. Its scent is to attract euglossine (perfume gathering) bees just as Gongora species do.
There is some confusion/disagreement over species limits in Zygopetalum as maculatum now covers plants previously named Zygopetalum mackayi and intermedium. It is interesting to note that plants we found in Brazil of these types clearly had two different scents, one very sweet and another rather peppery implying that the two populations (possibly different species) may be attracting different pollinators and so be distinct.
The photograph shows the species flowering at the base of a small tree in Brazil in 2005 and growing amongst ferns and mosses.
In cultivation Zygopetalums can suffer from black marks on the leaves. We believe that this is environmental and we avoid the problem by growing the species cool and damp to avoid heat stress to the soft leaves. Notice the beautiful leaves on the wild plant in its cool damp habitat.
How’s this for a stunning orchid? Cleisostomas are small flowered relatives of Vanda with a range of growth habits but rather similar prettly little flowers that tend to open successively along relatively long flower spikes.
This is the ‘bent’ cleisostoma referring to the curved terete leaves. It is a warm growing species from South East Asia, India and Malaysia where it grows pendulously. We have seen related species growing in Arunachal Pradesh, North East India, and in Laos, amongst a mass of orchids (Dendrobiums, Pholidotas, Erias and others) on the lower branches of semi-deciduous trees along rivers and in open forest.
We find Cleisostomas work well mounted where their attractive growth habits can be enjoyed and the plants are able to dry out well between waterings. As this is a warm growing species we hang it high in our Warm Asia section where temperatures are highest. The bright light caused the leaves to turn purple which is how we have found similar species in the wild.
Maxillaria porphyrostele was one of the first orchids to arrive at the Writhlington School Orchid Project in the early 1990’s and it is still going strong although it has been divided many times. Both small plants and larger ones are now opening their sulphur yellow flowers to welcome the spring.
The species is native to cool mountain forest in the Mata Atlantica Brazil and we have seen similar species in the mild where they grow tight to the trunk and lower branches of trees in primary forests that have a wet summer and a cooler dryer winter.
We grow the species in our Cool America section in pots and baskets with free draining compost but heavy watering during the summer months when in growth. The 2cm pseudobulbs mature in the autumn and flower spikes appear from the base of the newest bulbs in early spring, each with a striking sulfur yellow flower. Looking closely into the flower reveals the purple column which gives the species its name (Porphyrostele = purple columned). The purple extends around the base of the lip too.
The flowers are long lasting if plants are kept dry when in flower.
One of the great things of posting our orchids every day is that we can spot changes in flowering times and identify the plants that flower several times a year. This species last flowered in September for the Bristol University Pollination day. There are many of our cooler growing species that flower both in the Autumn and the Spring and we have observed this in the wild too. We have visited the Mata Atlantica, Barazil, in April and in October and both times we found lots of Cattleya coccinea flowering.
Back to today’s orchid, this is one of our smaller Dendrochilum species and in common with most of the genus it produces a pendant spike of delicate little fragrant flowers.
The species is native to the Philippines where it grows from 660-2250m altitude. We find that our plant does best cool and damp in our Cool Americas section (yes we know the Philippines isn’t in the Americas) as it enjoys the conditions we provide for our Masdevallias.