Wednesday, January 9, 2013

More foliage and jewel orchids

Continuing from where I left off, here are a few more foliage orchids. Goodyera is a geographically diverse genus found in America, Africa Asia and Australasia. Its habitat may range from alpine highlands to tropical lowland forest. A few species are quite common in the trade but this G. vittata is not one of them. It was found on mountain slopes in North Vietnam near the China border.

A more interesting representative would be this Goodyera pusilla, which is found throughout SE Asia and New Guinea. The leaf markings make it a favourite amongst hobbyists.

Nephelaphyllum is a resident of the dark damp forests floors in SE Asia. Its latin name means "Cloudy Leaf" but this description does not apply to all species in the genus, notably N tenuiflorum which is plain green. The previously mentioned N. borneense (see here), N. pulchrum and the similar N. flabellatum shown above have marvelously cryptic leaves which blend in with the background of the forest floor . The habitats of the different species are quite diverse - N. pulchrum can be found in lowland swamps while N. borneense were found in in cool lower montane forest - so there is no hard and fast rule to growing them.

Cystorchis variegata is probably the only horticulturally interesting member of the genus. C. variegata var. purpurea has dark purple leaves with faint markings. We nearly stepped on this small inconspicuous orchid at a very dark undergrowth of swamp forests. This plant is actually the same species as the more widespread form called var. variegata below, although it had been regarded as a different species before.

Another jewel orchid commonly found in collections is Anoetochilus. They are mostly cool growers. I only have a miserly photo of this specimen from the highlands of Borneo, you can probably get a better picture from the web.

Malaxis is a close relative of Liparis and not all of them are small nor ground dwelling. The following would fit the bill of jewel orchids nicely:

Malaxis calophylla

Malaxis metallica which has rather striking uniformly purple leaves.

.... and this cryptic Malaxis lowii growing on leaf debris in between large boulders 
at lowland of Peninsula Malaysia.

Hardly considered to be a small orchid, Collabium simplex nevertheless has fantastic leaves and, true to nature of foliage orchids, rather modest bloom, hence its name.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Foliage and jewel orchids

Unlike most orchids, these smallish terrestrials are grown mainly for their foliage rather than the flowers. They have rather cryptic coloration or psychedelically intricate patterns - strategies to break their outline and blend with the environment. Some of them are known by trade as Jewel orchids, a non-botanical term describing plants from diverse botanical genus. Like most terrestrial orchids, they are, in general,  a challenge to grow, but that does not seem to stop many people from trying their luck..

The first genus in the list is Dossinia - of which D. marmorata is the sole member. It was at one time considered to be a large Macodes - which it resembles from the leaf shape and pattern.

In Situ at limetone crevice
The plant is endemic to limestone regions of Borneo, growing amongst leaf litters or islands of organic debris. Unlike most Macodes it is able to tolerate fairly low humidity.

Backlit leaf

The real Macodes is quite popularly grown by hobbyists.  M. petola is generally smaller than the Dossinia. It is found throughout SE Asia all the way to southern islands of Japan. The pattern of the leaves look rather like Arabic scriptures so in Java the juice made from the plant is used as eye drop to aid literacy amongst kids.

This is another Macodes, which I saw in the Orchid Conference show, most likely M. limii from Borneo. There are 7 species of Macodes according to Orchid species website - and their leaf venation are all rather similar.

Macodes lowii is a rare Borneo native. The pale leaf margin sets it apart from previous species.
Vrydagzynea is a genus of little known (and much less grown) ground orchids usually with plain green foliage but V. tristriata has very attractive stripped leaves not unlike a Ludisia. It is found in lowland limestone areas in Borneo and Malay Peninsula. I think it has potential to be popular but given its rarity, is unlikely to hit the shelves soon.

In subsequent postings I will showcase some other genera of foliage orchids, cheers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Variegated Globba pendula

Globba is a genus of smallish understorey Asian gingers - supposedly there are 100 species but many of them are rather similar.

While roaming around the Phang Nga region of Thailand, I came across this unusual small Globba with variegated leaves. The bloom suggests its most likely G. pendula, a common species in this region, although variegation is less usual.
Flowers of globbas are unusual in that the lip is greatly reduced whlie the stamen tube is very long and arched, The anther appendages at the end of the stamen is useful in identifications.This species only has 2 such appendages, while some may have 4.

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