Hi, Chloe here- I wanted to share an update on the MRSM lab before I go home on the 26th.
First I must congratulate Nina and Fahyim on being the lab manager and assistant lab manager here. Their dedication to the project is amazing and I am sure their leadership of the lab and students and SAROSO members will grow even more than it already has in the few weeks since they have been appointed.
In the next few weeks, the MRSM lab will be welcoming 8 new students. All the students currently in the lab are so knowledgeable of the lab skills, organisation and running I am sure the new students will be experts in no time at all.
Speaking of experts, I am wishing Nina and Alwin good luck (even though they do not need it) for their presentation of the labs Dendrobium anosmum research at the Tunas science competition at the start of March. The Tunas science competition is a science competition between all MRSM schools (science schools) across the whole of Malaysia. The girls will fly to Kuala Lumpa on the 28th to present alongside other students with science experiments.
In terms of the labs running, MRSM now has a planned seed protocol, to record all the seed coming in and out the lab. Below you can see me catching the students up on orchid flower shape and pollinating, on the wonderful Dendrobium crumenatum just outside the lab here.
After just 3 days we saw D. crumenatum seed pods develop and split. Below, you can see Fahyim sowing the Dendrobium crumenatum seed using the syringe method. We are collecting data from orchids around the school on seed pod development so MRSM students and SAROSO members can have something to reference when picking seed pods, as the climate here speeds everything up so much, other records we have found on seed pod collection have not been reliable here. The students have made a map of the school to locate flowering size orchids that they can collect seed pods from, as well as this they use a table to keep track of flowering, pollinating and seed pod collection timing.
The data collection does not stop there, as students also record seedlings entering and leaving the growth room. This data is important in MRSM to provide statistical evidence of the progress here, in terms of contamination going down as students learn more about lab procedures and also as a record of more and more seed being sown and developed seedlings being replanted. Not to mention keep track of the Dendrobium anosmum seedings in the lab- the focus for some research into in-vitro propagation the students are conducting for conservation and reintroduction purposes.
I am sad to be going home, but looking forward to seeing what the lab can accomplish after the students have space to work on their own and Nina and Fahyim are left alone to run everything themselves. I have no doubt I will end up visiting Sarawak again, as I love it here and have made lasting friendships with lab members and SAROSO members.
A real February highlight is this wonderful and truly weird bulbophyllum.
Bulbophyllum lemniscatoides is a small growing Bulbophyllum with a remarkable flower spike consisting of many small black flowers which each produce three thin dangly tassels which are attached to the end of each sepal and sway too and fro in the slightest breeze.
This species is notable as one of our most exciting finds in the wild. On our last expedition to Laos we were trekking to one of the famous waterfalls of the Bolevan Plateau when our attention was taken by a ‘fluffy dangly thing’ just above our heads. It turned out to be two flowering spikes of Bulbophyllum lemniscatoides coming from leafless pseudobulbs. (photos below)
The find was all the more exciting as the species is the cover photo for the book we had been using all trip ‘Orchid Genera of Thailand,Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The habitat of the species was humid evergreen forest near a river at about 1000m (see photo below) and so the plant is best suited to growing in our Warm Asia section although it benefits from a cooler dry winter period in the roof of Cool Americas along with a number of our Asian species. If you are going to southern Laos in the near future I can tell you where to look.
We grow the species high in our Warm Asia section and mounted so that it gets good drainage (the plants in the wild were on bare bark with no moss) and the newest bulb drops its two leaves in December before sending our the thin upright flower spike.
We are delighted that the plant is really flourishing and has two spikes this year – we can’t wait for it to grow into a specimen.
We are disappointed to announce that we will not be attending the World Orchid Congress in Taiwan next month.
The current situation with Coronavirus means that the trip would not be safe (especially flying via China) for our students, or our partners from Sarawak and Rwanda who were due to work with us at the show.
Thank you to all those students and staff in the three countries who have been working so hard to prepare lectures, posters and displays for the event. We will look to develop these for other events in the near future.
Our best wishes go to the organisers who have a really difficult job in the circumstances .
This morning I noticed that our Oncidium maculatum have burst into flower.
Oncidium maculatum is native to Mexico and Central America where it grows in wet forests from 1000 to 2000m altitude. This habitat suggests it would be happy in either our Warm Americas or our Cool Americas sections and we have grown it in both although we have found that plants do best in Warm Americas where we keep plants wet and in relatively bright light which encourages the large pseudobulbs that flower well.
We grow the species successfully both in pots and in baskets.
The flowers are long lasting and large compared to most Oncidiums making this a really attractive species and one we have used in breeding.
We have a real theme this week with small pink and red Brazilian species, pollinated by Hummingbirds.
This little orchid from Bahia, Brazil is similar to Leptotes bicolor (below) with small terete leaves but eh flowers are bright flowers and produced in ones and twos. Its leaves are finer than Leptotes bicolor and the flowers are smaller as well as differently shaped (and of course properly pink)
We grow the two species of leptotes close together in Warm Americas and both mounted. Leptotes pohlitinocoi is more pendulous than Leptotes bicolor and is determined to grow downwards which can make display a little difficult. This plant has been on this mount for about twelve years showing the slow rate at which it grows.
This year the plant is flowering more than a month earlier than usual. The warm winter is probably the reason.