Sunday, December 5, 2010

Discovery of Paphiopedilum primulinum

Inspired by a psychic dream of finding a blue orchid, Mr Liem Khe Wie the intrepid orchid hunter from Indonesia, set off with some companions on a perilous adventure during which one of them was wasted by leaches and the rest had to wrestle a giant python before finding this elusive "dream-like" plant flowering on a mountain slope in a "remote Indonesian Island", which we later discovered to be Sumatra.

Alas, instead of a blue flower, it turned out to be yellow.
Few seemed to buy this tall tale published in Orchid Review in 1973. but the yellow plant is real and is actually an aberrant flava form ; the more typical forma purpurascens shown below, which contains anthrocyanin pigments and a noticeably pink pouch, was described some 26 years later.
Other than the smaller flower, this species is similar to many members in sub genus cochlopetalum (most notably, I think, moquetteanum, liemianum and glaucophyllum) and differs by subtle colour variations of the bloom. As many orchid taxonomists will tell you, colour variation of the flower is insufficient for species delineation. But slipper orchids growers and experts are a passionate lot and they would have none of that. In light of this, I have to kowtowto Mark Wood who, in 1976, bravely suggested to lump all species in this section into a single taxon.

Unlike many of the Paphs, this species actually do well in the lowland and would flower quite frequently. The spike consists of several flowers which open singly and sequentially so flowering period appear to extend up to 3 months or more.

Addenda: I suspect the forma purpurascens shown in this pic to be a hybrid called Pinocchio, which is the same as the wild form except for the bigger flower.

1 comment:

antigonum cajan said...

All this is wonderful in so many ways, the academic and for the gardener with criterion at home, as your humble servant.

However, lets curve the enthusiasm. At the speed the earth is being destroyed, all this information
has the value of water and salt in the long, run...

Related Posts with Thumbnails