After a quick freshen up at our hotel we headed to MRSM School where we met the student team Nat, Maira, Nina and Alwinas well as the lead teacher Hamidah, the Head, and the amazing team from the Sarawak Orchid Society
We unpacked the air-freighted lamina flow cabinet, the lab that had travelled successfully in our luggage, and the seed and seedlings which again looked fine after their journey. Some starter activities to get to know each other and to begin to learn about orchid seed and seedlings has set us up for a productive day tomorrow.
Well done to Jess, Tallis and Chloe for being so brilliant after the long flight.
We popped to a supermarket after leaving the schools to buy a few consumables such as bleach and then headed off to visit the beach at the foot of Mount Santubong.
It was a stunning spot with the rainforest of Santubong running down to the sea, all bathed in a golden sunset.
Yesterday we had Stanhopea tigrina and today is another orchid pollinated by euglossine bees – Gongora macuklata. The summer is a great time for Gongoras and we have several in flower including this species and the closely related Gongora unicolor (more on that tomorrow)
Gongora maculata is one of the larger growing species and produces large flowers on long pendulous spikes. The species is found in warm forests across South America and as a result the species is variable. The flowers on this clone are very heavily spotted in dark red but there are less spotted clones around.
We grow the plant like all our Gongoras in a basket so that it can be hung up when the flower spikes appear although we find plants prefer to sit on a bench when not in flower as they are then much easier to keep well watered. We find that plants prefer wet roots and dryer air to keep leaves in good condition and to make up the large bulbs which produce multiple long flower spikes.
Our first flight was nearly 13 hours from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur, the food was enjoyed by all, films by most, Jess and Tallis found an interesting documentary on phyto-plankton, and Simon and Annie were gripped by the Cricket World Cup – congratulations to England. In Kuala Lumpur we have passed through immigration and are ready to catch our internal flight (plane behind Chloe, Jess and Tallis) to Kuching. We have a couple of hours to wait and will keep an eye out for tropical birds amongst the palms surround ing the airport.
Breakfast in Terminal 4 – we fly at 11am. A chance to think of those we have all left at home – pets, family and plants – please remember to water the plants.
The greenhouse we left this morning is filled with the scent of Stanhopeas. These wonderful orchids attract male euglossine bees to gather perfume to attract females.
Stanhopea tigrina is a warm growing epiphytic species found in Mexico. It is a medium sized plant which produces a single leaf from each pseudobulb and produces a large pendulous flower spike. The flower spike carries 2-3 large pendulous flowers which are heavily scented and only last 2 days. Our plant in flower at the moment is the nigroviolacea variety, which has flowers which are more heavily marked than the normal variety but are no less fragrant.