Polystachya virginae – 365 days of orchids – day 736


This is one of our favourite African species and one we have seen in its native habitat in the cool mountain forests of Central Africa. During our visits to Rwanda we have seen in growing abundantly in primary forest around Karamazovu Swamp at around 2200m altitude and it was one of the species studied by the students of FAWE School on our last visit in 2016.

The picture below shows the conditions it enjoys in wet forest amongst moss and other epiphytes in semi-shade.

The climate in Nyungwe is wet all year apart from two short dry seasons(which are still damp) so cultivation is similar to that for plants from South American cloud forests and we grow the species in cool Americas.

The plant shown in our photo fits the type description well but we also found plants in Nyungwe that are distinct with a red spot on the column and different shaped petals that Jacob is still investigating to determine its status (photo below)


Ludisia discolor – 365 days of orchids – day 735

Happy New Year. 365 Days of Orchids enters its third year with an Orchid Species that is the most readily available jewel orchid. Jewel orchids include a large number of terrestrial orchids prized for their patterned leaves although several, like this species, have attractive flower too.

Ludisia discolor is native to evergreen lowland forests across South East Asia and is reported from 70-1100m in shaded damp situations in leaf litter. As a result plants prefer warm shaded conditions and plenty of water. We have seen advice to grow plants in potting compost but we use our standard bark mix with a little sphagnum moss.

Several jewel orchids are threatened by unsustainable collection for horticulture so sources should be checked carefully but Ludisia discolor is very easy from seed in the lab and plants in cultivation in the uk are seed raised.



Cleisostoma subulatum – 365 days of orchids – day 734

it is New Year’s Eve which means we have completed a second year of 365 days of orchids – an orchid that is in flower at the Orchid Project every day of the year. Look out for you chance to vote in ‘Orchid of the Year 2018’ which will be posted later today.

Cleisostoma is a lovely genus and plants have very diverse leaves but very similar flowers. The flowers all have their spurs protruding from their buds well before they open.

We found the similar species Cleisostoma teretifolium in Laos where it was quite common in open woodland around Paksong. (photo below)

Cleisostoma subulatum is a medium sized plant with long pendulous spikes of small flowers that open successively. The species is found from Sikkim in the Himalayas through South east Asia to Malaysia and the Philippines where it grows as an epiphyte in lowland forest up to 500m altutide.

We grow our cleisostomas mounted and in baskets and have found that Cleisostoma subulatum seems to grow and flower best when hanging from a basket. This suggests that it likes to be kept a little damper than the more terete leaved cleisostomas such as Cleisostoma arietinum that is also flowering in our Warm Asia section this week.

 Cleisostoma arietinum