Monday, December 27, 2010

Portrait of a stinko

First described by Lindley in 1855, Bulbophyllum lasianthum is a large orchid from Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra with long stiff purplish leaves up to 50cm long. Like many fly pollinated plants, especially Typhonium and Amorphophallus, this orchid adopt a similar strategy to draw pollinators - the flowers look and smell like hairy rotting carcasses.

In the lowland, the flowers open partially and only for a short period, about 2 days or so ; I had misjudged the timing on several occasions before I finally manage to capture this fresh bloom. Arriving before the flies did, I was incessantly bombarded by waves after waves of olfactory tsunamis as I worked on the closeups.
I had only seen it in the wild once, scrambling around wet rocks beside a stream in the lowland, occasionally curling around larger tree trunks but did not appear to climb too high. Although not a rare plant, it is not very commonly encountered.

There's nothing much going for it - unwieldy size, untidy habits, partially opening hairy flowers and repelling odour - so its not very commonly cultivated by orchid growers, except those who have a fetish for the obnoxious .... yes, my kind ....
Wishing all a joyous, glorious, odorous New Year !


Hermes said...

Have a happy new year.
Still very cold here.
This plant has a curious beauty of it though.

Titania said...

I guess with its smell it will be well left alone, though it looks spectacular. Nature has gone to quite some length to nourish and to ensure the continuity of a species.
I wish you a happy new year and lots of luck in your pursuit of interesting and beautiful plants.

Claude said...

well, if I grew orchids I'd have to have this one... I do after all grow Stapelia gigantea, and it's olfactory presence is well established by it's common name of carion flower... this does have a fascinating look of it's own.

Hort Log said...

Yes Claude, if you are into smelly flowers then you may like it. It is however, bigger and more untidy in growth than Stapelia, which can be nicely contained in a pot. This one need plenty of space to run.

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