Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cirrhopetalum fascinator var alba

While I was still new to orchid growing years ago, I purchased a specimen of C. fascinator from a local nursery, which had just imported a sizeable shipment from Thailand. It was a random pick, out of the many plants with flower buds being offered. As the bud developed, I realised something was amissed - and when the bloom was fully opened, I thought I had a hybrid. I took the flowering plant to the nursery owner, who literally jumped out from his seat. He told me it was the rare "alba" variety and immediately took the remaining plants from his shelf.

You see, the usual form of this plant, has a lot of bright liver and crimson colour, but this plant has none of the red pigments. Still doubtful, I consulted Dr Leslie Garay, a Bulbophyllum authority who confirmed the identification. While semi-alba forms infrequently turn up in collection, pure alba is rather unusual.

As it turned out, none of the remaining stock from the nursery was "alba". I guessed I was really lucky.

By the way, Dr Garay, now retired, thinks that this plant should be placed in a separate genus called "Mastigion". There are some features that distinguish Mastigion from "normal" Cirrhopetalums, the most obvious being the singular flower (rather than many in an inflorescence) with a long slender "rat tail"(actually a merger of the 2 lateral sepals). I visited him in Virginia three and a half years ago and was overwhelmed both by his enthusiasm and his orchid literature - his house has many cabinets in all corners filled with reference materials.


Hermes said...

So unusual. Never heard of it before but it should compete with the Mandrake for obvious reasons. What a lucky find - well done.

I likE plants! said...

Wow, that is some specimen, lucky you!!!!


naf said...

Wow, it's a beauty. But I'm more envious that you have visited Dr Garay. We used to correspond a lot and he helped me to identify some of the orchids on my website but I neer had the opportunity to meet him face to face.

Well done.

Nik Fahmi

Hort Log said...

Hi Nik,
My family and I spent a very nice day with him - the long drive was worth it !

Steffany LW said...

i love this one, cos i hv one...just like yours. hope u can give me more information about this plant

Hort Log said...

Hi Steffany,
your plant looks like the one in my pic. I only know mine come from a batch from Thailand and mine happens to be the only ine that's unusual.

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