We have had a really exciting day in the greenhouse with our visiting class from St Dunstan’s School, Glastonbury. Orchid project students gave tours of the greenhouse and workshops in laboratory propagation, botany and conservation.
A highpoint of the visit for some students was smelling the unusual scent of this dramatic Bulbophyllum species.
Bulbophyllum rothschildianum is native the Eastern Himalayan region of Southern China, North East India and Burma. I have been to the warm lowland forests of Arunachal Pradesh where the species is found. These forests have a very wet summer when growth occurs but a much dryer winter which is the flowering time. We find the species does well in both baskets or pots but appreciated good drainage and watering regularly even in winter so that the bulbs do not shrivel.
The flowers smell quite strongly of fresh fish (we think mackerel) which is quite pleasant as long as you are expecting it. We presume that the fly pollinators find it irresistible. To get an idea of flower size the pot in the photo below is a 15cm pot.
We have a real stunner today, Angraecum sequipedale from Madagascar.
The large star like flower opens slightly greenish and this will fade to a glowing creamy white in the next day or two.
This species is commonly known as Darwin’s comet orchid reflecting the well known story of Darwin predicting that there must be a moth on Magagascar (where the species is found) with a proboscis over a foot long so that it can reach the nectar at the end of the long spur (ours is now 36cm). The moth was subsequently found and is a hawk moth (Xanthopan morganii preadicta). There is a great video of it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUiZDhs0JrA
The spur is certainly extraordinary…as is the scent at night with the very heady (if rather chemically) fragrance which is worth visiting the greenhouse at night for.
The species is endemic to Madagascar where it grows in warm wet rainforest near sea level on the North East of the Island. We grow the species in Warm Asia and find it does well in pots or in baskets and appreciates a little more in the way of plant food than some of our orchids.
Our plant has been taken to Bristol today for filming at the Aardman studios and so it will hopefully be a film star soon.
We have yet another miniature today and this one is a very unusual one. Scaphosepalum ovulare is a true miniature with leaves less than 1cm long forming a tight clump and 2mm egg shaped little flowers (the basket shown is 10cm diameter).
The species is endemic to Ecuador where it is found from 600-1200m implying a need for the warmer end of our conditions in Cool Americas. The flower spikes produce a succession of flowers and tend to be pendulous (notice the flowers emerging from the sides of the basket) and so growing the species mounted may make more sense when we divide the species next week. Lots of plants available later in the year for all you miniature lovers.
Hi, Chloe here and I am checking in after settling into life at MRSM school, Kuching, where I will be until the end of February.
I am working with Alwin, Nina, Natalia, Humaira, Maya, Najiha, Fikry, Fahyim, Aiman and Earl, to help them get the lab and new shade house into a easily manageable schedule so many students here can learn about the in vitro culture of orchids. Also, I will help the 5 students who will be going to the World orchid congress in Taiwan this March prepare for their presentation and talking to visitors about the project.
Everyone here has been lovely and welcoming, the SAROSO orchid society members especially have been looking after me, and I have tried many Malay cakes and sweets now (I am very happy about this). A SAROSO member a little farther away is also taking care of me, as Tengku is getting treats delivered and organising hotels and trips for me all the way from London where she is studying at the moment, many thanks to Tengku.
I am looking forward to the next 6 weeks of yummy Malay food, cute Kuching cats and of coarse seeing how the MRSM lab develops.
Meeting the SAROSO ladies at Kuching airport
Hazza was happy with the English cookies my mum sent with me for the SAROSO ladies
Another fantastic miniature today – and one with a rather deceptive name.
Adenoncos major is a species found in Sarawak in the warm lowland forests up to 600m that we have experiences on our expeditions. It is an orchid with a wonderfully ridiculous name meaning the large adenoncos when the plant is a tiny minature. The whole plant is about 4cm tall and the flower is about 5mm across – which actually is large for an adenoncos species. (see Adenoncos paviflora below with flowers less than a third of the size)
The species is found in warm forests from 300-600m altitude in Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo and in our experience enjoys a shaded habitat. We grow plants mounted where the tiny plants make extensive root systems.
The species flowers irregularly throughout the year and is a real point of interest when in flower.