Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bulbophyllum blumei

This lowland Bulbophyllum is the type species of Section Ephippium, (in layman terms means it is the species from which the characteristics of the section is based upon). The plant can be very robust, forming trailing chains up to a metre long and has an endearing tendency to flower en mass - triggered by some unknown climatic stimulus, perhaps a storm or temperature drop similar to the pigeon orchid. The plant is reputed to grow wild in damp places like mangroves so a dryish windy high-rise balcony is not welcome.

I am including closeups of a form from Indonesia (most likely Java) and another from PNG to illustrate the subtle differences. There is even a totally red/white form without any yellow colouration which I am seeking....any leads are welcome ! Mass flowering of the PNG plant.
Closeup of the PNG form, showing elongated petals
The Indonesian form with short petals.

It has a wide distribution from SE Asia to New Guinea, so confused scholars have allocated different names to the same plant over time. It has been called Bulbophyllum masdevalliaceum due to its resemblance to the totally unrelated Masdevalia from the New World as well as Bulbophyllum ciliatum, probably of its fine hairs on the sepals. Its most recent name change is Bulbophyllum maxillare - such is the fickleness of taxonomy that can have non-academics like me going in circles like a headless chicken....I am sticking to blumei because this is the name I have known for along time.


Rowena... said...

Wow! Being that these would never survive outdoors where I'm at makes me appreciate their beauty all that much more.

Hermes said...

Great pics. Have you seen those at:

and for buying I ususally recommend:

The taxonomy of this group is very complex and with over 1100 spp rather off putting to most researchers I suspect. What gorgeous plants though.

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