Our first Dendrochilum of our orchid year is a species from the Philippines, Dendrochilum javieriense. It produces masses of red flowers arranged along upright but arching spikes about 30cm long – a similar length to the dark green narrow leaves.
We find this species enjoys growing damp and well shaded in our warm Warm Asia section although its natural range suggests it could also grow cooler.
This species is the third Cymbidium from Sikkim to feature in 365 days of orchids. It is a large growing plant with flowers much smaller than Cymbidium hookerianum and lacking the delicate elegance of Cymbidium erythraeum but its flowers are remarkable for their distinctly red colouring and this species has been used in breeding to give red flowered hybrids. It is a variable species and many plants have a more yellow/brown base colour to the flowers but our clone has a much lighter ground under the red striping which gives a dramatic effect. The flowers do not open fully but we like the way that the flowers conceal such a lovely lip which is long, curved and wonderfully striped and spotted (well done Joe for taking such a great photo).
The natural range of the species is India (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya) Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and China) and it is reported as growing at lower altitudes than Cymbidium hookerianum although we grow it it the same section (temperate) with a minimum 6C. We are pretty sure we have seen the two species growing together in forest near Labrang Monestry and the ruined Palace of Ongditse where Joseph Hooker was imprisoned for a while on his epic botanical exploration of Sikkim in the 1840s.
Last week we had the most even spread of votes for our seven orchid species in for orchid of the week and Vanda cristata won it with 28.5% of the public vote. Thanks again for voting – the week six vote will open this Saturday
The greenhouse is full of Coelogyne species in bud that will fill the greenhouses with flowers later in the spring and the first, Coelogyne viscosa, has opened its first flowers today.
We have seen this species in the wild near Tad Fan waterfall on the Bolevan Plateau in Southern Laos. This habitat is relatively cool forest at 1400m altitude with warm wet summers and a cool dry season in the winter and a hot dry season in spring. We grow the plant in Cool Asia and sometimes give it a spell in Warm Americas for a little extra heat. The species is bee pollinated like most Coelogynes.
Tad Fan waterfall photographed on one of our expeditions to Laos. There will be more orchids from this habitat featured later in the year when they flower.