Saturday, March 14, 2009

Phalaenopsis gigantea - a megalomaniac's dream

This biggest member of the sixty odd species of Phalaenopsis, the leaves of which has been measured to be 90cm long and 40 cm wide, was first collected in 1897 by Niewenhuis somewhere in Borneo and described by JJ Smith in 1909.

It was only fourty years later in 1937, during a road construction through the east Borneo (Kalimantan) jungle, that this plant was rediscovered but the stock was stripped and totally wiped out in the wild.

The plant was thought to be extinct until its rediscovery another 40 years later, this time in North Borneo (Sabah) and again the wild stock was completely plucked out by collectors. Thereafter, wild specimens of these plants periodically appear and disappear in the market as collectors found and decimated the plants in its new found locality*. It was just early this year that some Malaysian nurseries obtained another batch of wild specimens so its good to know its still hanging on somewhere in the jungle of Borneo.

Despite being a lowland orchid, its large size and demand for high humidity makes it a challenge to grow at home or any typical greenhouse. I have tried growing from seedlings - the growth rate is painstakingly low. Leaves of my 4 years old seedlings are hardly 6cm long. Seedlings of similar age of P. amboensis are already blooming. I wonder how long it will take to reach 90cm....

I found an excellent source of information on this orchid genus by a French enthusiast Species Phalaenopsis

* Harold Koopowitz, Orchids and Their Conservation, Timber Press, September 1, 2001


Hermes said...

Stunning flowers and thanks for the information.

Ewa said...

megalomaniac's dream - ha ha ha - what a funny title.
Thank you for sharing many interesing information.
Greetings from Poland,

Dennis ll said...

Such greed ....sad

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