December 19, 2011

Cymbidium dayanum

Cymbidium dayanum, also known as The Phoenix Orchid, or the Tree Orchid, is a small pendulous cymbidium species found from Japan to Thailand where it grows low down on tree trunks in evergreen lowland forests.

The genus Cymbidium has 50 or so species, which are distributed throughout southern and eastern Asia and into Australia. Over the past century tens of thousands of hybrids have been created making it one of the most popular genus in the orchid family. These orchids have been cultivated for centuries in China and Japan, where they are valued for spiritual and medicinal purposes.

The small fragrant flower reminds me of a candy cane, and the timing couldn't be better as it will be in full bloom for Christmas. Happy Holidays to everyone!

October 24, 2011

Psychopsis sanderae

This species is from Peru, where it grows high up on the trunks of trees in wet mountain forests. Psychopsis is a genus of only four species of orchids distributed from the West Indies and Costa Rica to Peru. The name comes from Greek, psyche meaning butterfly, and opsis, meaning resembling, referring to the butterfly like appearance of the flowers. The butterfly orchid is rumored to have started the European "Orchidmania" of the 19th century.

September 29, 2011

Bulbophyllum grandiflorum

Bulbophyllum grandiflorum is a warm growing species common in Sumatra, New Guinea and the surrounding islands. It grows on the lower trunks of large trees throughout the rain forest there.  The odd shaped flower is spotted like a baby deer, and smells like pepper to me. Like most bulbophyllums, this one prefers to be kept moist throughout the year.

September 26, 2011

Bulbophyllum medusae

Bulbophyllum medusae is an epiphytic species, native to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This orchid was named after Gorgon Medusa of Greek Mythology, because the long sepals resemble the snakes that formed Medusa's hair. Bulbophyllum is one  of my favorite genus within the orchid family. The diversity in the shape, color, and size of this genus is fascinating. It is also the largest genus in the orchid family, with more than 2,000 species.

September 21, 2011

Masdevallia veitchiana

Masdevallia veitchiana, known as 'The King of Masdevallia's, is a brillant orange species from the mountains of Peru. It is said to have been cultivated by the Incas centuries ago, and is still a national treasure. It can still be found growing in mossy rocks around Machu Picchu. In Peru the plant is known as Gallo-Gallo, meaning "rooster". The flower has tiny purple hairs which give off an iridescent glow from different angles. The neon orange and purple are colors rarely seen in nature.

The plant was named after Harry Veitch, who's family ran the largest group of nurseries in Europe during the 19th century. Veitch's plant hunters gathered species from all corners of the globe, and this wonder was returned to him in 1867. He also helped establish the Chelsey Flower Show, perhaps the most famous flower show in the world. The drawing below was done by Walter Hood Fitch, a Scottish botanical illustrator who produced thousands of  images in color lithograph. I love old botanical drawings.

August 29, 2011

Sobralia sp.

Bruce recently gave me this Sobralia as a house warming gift. I believe it is one of his new hybrids. It truly has warmed the house, as it has been flowering on and off for about two months now. Thanks Bruce!

August 22, 2011

Sobralia macrathra alba x sib

Sobralia is a genus of about 100 mostly terrestrial species found from Mexico to tropical South America. The tallest orchids in the world belong to the Sobralia genus. Sobralia altissima of Peru can grow over 40 feet tall. Many species have large Cattleya-like blooms, which are often short-lived. These plants enjoy strong light, and lots of water. They can be planted in the ground in mild climates like San Francisco. My favorite thing about Sobralia's is the gorgeous bamboo-like foliage. It is worth growing these plants for their leaves alone.

My good friend Bruce Rogers has been growing and breeding Sobralia's for many years. He is the world's expert on these plants, and even has a species named after him - Sobralia rogersiana. Because of Bruce, these wonderful plants are now available at many of our bay area nurseries. To read more about his beauties visit OZ Gardens. Also, if your in the area Bruce will be selling his plants at Orchids in the Park in a few weeks.

August 11, 2011

Masdevallia glandulosa

I am very fond of small fragrant orchids, and my good friend Tom gave me this wonderful Peruvian Masdevallia recently. The whole greenhouse smells like cinnamon and cloves.  I imagine the scent is coming from the little glands covering the inside of the flower. It's name in Latin means "bearing the glands".

August 9, 2011

Restrepia xanthophthalma

Restrepia is a genus of around 50 miniature orchids from Central and South America. They grow in cool moist forests high in the Andes mountain range. Flowers are produced one at a time from the base of the rear of the leaf, and appear throughout the year. Restrepias are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures as long as they are kept moist. They enjoy being copiously watered throughout the year. 

Of all my orchids, my miniature species bring the most joy. Within the orchid family, miniatures far outnumber their “bigger” cousins in total species and can be found nearly everywhere orchids grow. They live on branches or rocks, using their roots as anchors and to soak up moisture from rain, dew, mist, and fog. They are ideal for the home gardener with little space. An entire tropical garden can be grown in a small window sill providing a lifetime of pleasure.

August 8, 2011

Barbosella dusenii

Barbosella is genus of creeping orchids comprised of about 20 species widespread from Central America to Brazil. This translucent miniature is from Brazil and flowers randomly throughout the year. The flower measures less than 1/4 inch across.

August 5, 2011

Neofinetia falcata

Neofinetia falcata is an epiphytic orchid native to Japan. The "Samurai Orchid" has been long treasured by Japanese royalty for it's foliage and fragrance.  Samurai warriors would travel for miles in search for this tiny orchid to bring back to the royal court. This species is still held in the highest regard today, with some cultivars commanding prices in the thousands of dollars. In Japan this orchid is commonly known as Fu-ran "The Wind Orchid" or Fuki-ran which means "Rich and Noble Orchid". This wonderfully fragrant orchid can fill a room with it's vanilla-like scent, especially at dawn and dusk. For this reason it is my favorite orchid to grow. 

The plant can be grown in a small pot or mounted on cork or hardwood. It grows slowly, but they have strong vital energy. The best place for Neofinetia falcata is a shady and airy place. They need at least 50% shade. It is a hardy plant that can handle very cold temperatures in the winter as long as it's kept dry, and hot temperatures in the summer as long as it's wet. They usually flower in the end of summer into fall.

August 4, 2011

Dendrobium tobaense

Dendrobium tobaense is another wonder from the 'Nigro-Hirsute' group. This amazing species was discovered in Sumatra in 1993. The long white appendage off the bright orange lip is quite unusual.

August 3, 2011

Dendrobium charpaense

This Dendrobium species belongs to a group know as the 'Nigro-Hirsute' type. The name refers to the black hairs on the canes. Dendrobiums prefer an abundance of light, but not direct sun. A lightly shaded south window is best. It is always best to water orchids in the morning so the plant can dry out before night.

August 2, 2011

Dendrobium delacourii

My first post is this small Dendrobium species. Dendrobium delacourii is native to Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Dendrobium is a huge genus with over 1,000 species. The name is from the Greek dendron (tree) and bios (life); it means "one who lives on trees". They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, from the high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains to lowland tropical forests and even to the dry climate of the Australian desert. This little species is only about 1/2" across , and it has been blooming for almost two months. It has an interesting fringed lip and no fragrance.