We have returned from Borneo to the UK in Autumn – cold mornings and the last few golden leaves on the trees. In the greenhouse, however, the tropical weather continues and we have our autumn flowering species reaching their peak. Octomeria grandiflora is a reliable early November flowerer and all our plants are full of the small lemon yellow flowers.
This beautiful species is native to the Mata Atlantica cool cloud forests of Brazil and a species we found near Macae de Cima on our expeditions in 2001 and 2006 at around 1300m altitude.
The flowers are small but are produced in profusion. The grey-green thick leaves are also very attractive.
All of our plants have come from a single flask purchased from Equatorial Plants in 2001 and we regularly have small divisions for sale. The plants grow well in pots, baskets and mounted. We find that the mounted plants (such as these photographed) are the most floriferous but they suffer a little more with black spotting on the leaved from heat stress.
The flowers are short lived but produce a dramatic display with the small plants smothered in flowers.
‘Pulihara bunga orkid’ or ‘Saving Orchids’ is the headline of the Sarawak Tribune on Nov 1st – a great article on the project and its successes.
It is wonderful to know that this will be read across the state increasing awareness on orchid and conservation as well as the positive message of school students contributing to maintaining Sarawak’s biodiversity. Great photo too.
It is lovely to come home from an expedition and find that the greenhouse at school has been fantastically looked. A massive well dome to Lily, Ellie and Alex + families for all your hard work.
The greenhouse is full of plants in flower that were in bud when we left. One of these is Oncidium ornithorhynchum.
When grown well this species produces several spikes of long lasting flowers from each pseudobulb and so a great little display. It also flowers when quite a small seedling and so is a rewarding plant to grow from seed.
The species is native to Central America where it grows in humid forests up to 1500m altitude and though it seems not to be fussy about temperatures it does best for us in our Cool Americas Section. This plant is mounted on an old piece of Elder but it does well for us mounted or in pots.
Many orchid species are quite variable in flower colour and we have this species in a light pink and dark pink form. Both colour forms smell strongly of chocolate and so this is a very popular species at school – everyone loves chocolate.
This species has been used in breeding hybrids which also have the delicious chocolate scent.
As you have seen on our blogs, we have seem a lot of terrific orchids during the trip to Sarawak. One that stands out for me is this Cleisostoma species that was growing high on small trees in Kerangas forest at Bako National Park. Kerangas forest or heath forest is made up a stunted dwarf trees including Erica species surrounded by grasses, nepanthes species and other herbs including terrestrial orchids. The small trees do have epiphytes but these must be able to withstand the dry heat in the day and lower humidity than nearby taller forest.
Cliesostoma teretefoilium copes with the conditions by reducing its leaf area to thin ‘terete’ leaves and producing a large root area to act as a water store. This young flowering plant is upright but with time plants become pendulous and we saw some large non-flowering specimens. (below)
In cultivation this is a plant that needs warm, bright conditions and perfect drainage. We grow all our cliesostomas mounted and hung high in our warm asia section.
28 hours travelling, but now home, and with so many wonderful memories of a great expedition.