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Vol. 12(5), pp. 7-16The McAllen International Orchid Society JournalMay 2011

A Few Orchids in Flower (as of mid-April 2011)

R J Ferry

Pl#040407-1. Ludisia discolor, figured in last month's issue bore 23 inflorescences this year. It has been repotted into a lattice basket. By next season it should not only fill its new home, but overflow it considerably. At present, with a potting mixture of Sphagnum mixed with good soil, it's heavy enough to almost be in the hernia-making size. We'll see how many inflorescences it bears the next time around.

Fig. 1. Pl#220305-2. Dendrobium Black Spider. Digital photo DSC_3991; Fri-01Apr 11.

The inflorescences figured on the front, inside, and back covers of last month's issue are all still in full flower, and there is an explosion of plants in flower at the present! This issue will try to show some of them figured in sizes that does them justice within the space this issue allows. We begin with Den. Black Spider (Fig. 1). This is a mini-dendrob, attaining only 60-70 cm. in height, flowering regularly from January through May.

Fig. 2. Dendrobium loddigesii. Digital photo DSC_4048; Sun-17Apr 11.

Fig. 3. Dendrobium loddigesii, two flowers. Digital photo DSC_4050; Sun-17Apr 11.

Next is Dendrobium loddigesii, a relatively small species in an 8-inch tree fern pot (Fig. 2). This species flowers from February through June. However April is its peak flowering time. It's a small species with prostrate or pendentcanes. It's a good species for the space-limited collection. Flowers are solitary, but profuse on the small canes, measuring about 5 cm across. They are faintly fragrant and long lasting provided the plant is kept relatively cool while in flower. The species is known from southwestern China, Laos, and Vietnam. The preceding figure really doesn't do justice to the flowers, so a following one is offered here (Fig. 3). The inflorescences come from leaf nodes after the leaves have dropped, but plants in your editor's collection will have both bare and leafy canes at flowering times.

Fig. 4. Pl#160605-10. Meiracyllium trinasutum. Digital photo DSC_4057; Sun-17Apr 11.

Another very small species in flower is Meiracyllium trinasutum (Fig. 4). It generally wants to be kept more dry than seems best, but over watering is a sure way to see it die! This little one has been growing on a cork plaque for over five years. It may flower anytime of the year, but April, and especially May are its most favored months. In greenhouse culture, it is less likely to see it flower during the winter months. It is known from southern Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, but not Belize. This may be due to it being known from trees or rocks of the central mountain range in Chiapas, Mexico at elevations of 600 to 1300 meters, in a relatively dry habitat. However, it may be that it has simply been overlooked due to its very small size. It has no pseudobulbs and is a minute orchid with a creeping habit. If it is to be found in Belize, one would suspect it to be at the higher elevations, in a relatively dry and rocky habitat in the western portion of the Cayo District, growing on a tree or on rocks, in a relatively shaded area, and flowering during April or May.

Fig. 5. Pl#160605-17. Ascocentrum miniatum. Digital photo DSC_4056; Sun-17Apr 11.

Far distant from southern Mexico and Central America, in southeastern Asia, in from the Philippines through , Laos, Vietnam, Malaya, Java, to Thailand, we find the diminutive Ascocentrum miniatum growing at relatively low elevations. Like Meiracyllium trinasutum, this species has no pseudobulbs, and the plants look very much like a miniature strap-leafed Vanda. Indeed, Ascocentrum is a member of Tribe Vandeae and Subtribe Aeridinae. Like M. trinasutum, Asctm. miniatum (Fig. 5) is a warm-growing species, although both have been known to tolerate temperatures down to 4 to 5°C.(40° F) with no ill effects in your editor's greenhouse. As with the previous two species noted, this one is an excellent choice for the space-limited orchid collection. As with most vandaceous members, this species wants relatively high light, but along with that high light level it wants the temperature and a high humidity level,...and don't forget the air movement as well! Remember, the lack pseudobulbs should tell you the potting medium should never be allowed to dry out completely! In this worker's collection it is grown in a tree fern pot that has been packed with Sphagnum with a smattering of seedling bark which ensures good drainage. It is kept close by the phrags and paphs so that as they are watered and fertilized, it receives similar treatment. The flowers are small, but profuse! If one is interested in seed capsules, experience has shown that all one needs to do is hang the plant out in the back patio. Your editor has never been absolutely certain what the specific pollinator is, whether a mosquito or some other species of small fly, but the result of hanging the plant outdoors in the back patio is a plethora of seed capsules!

Fig. 6. Encyclia candollei, part-inflorescence. Digital photo DSC_4058; Sun-17Apr 11.

Springtime is Encyclia time, and several species are now flowering. Only a small part of the inflorescence of Pl#080304-4. E. candollei is figured here (Fig. 6), but panicles reaching nearly a meter in length are not uncommon. Other encyclias flowering in the greenhouse (and back patio) at this time include E. alata (a few forms!), E. aspera, E. asperula, E. cordigera (fragrant in sunshine, not in shade!), and E. meliosma (quite fragrant!). E. hanburyi will be along shortly. One large tree fern raft has held a plant of E. alata (long known as E. belizensis subspecies parviflora) for about nine years. It is putting up tall straight inflorecences which will branch and re-branch to form arching panicles. Your editor quit counting at three dozen of these basic inflorescences. One thing is certain: this plant needs a lot of space when it comes into flower!

The encyclias excepted, the figures thus far have been plants requiring not much space. Individuals tend to think of "space" in terms of square feet or meters when their thinking should be in terms of cubic feet or meters. Orchids such as phals and cattleyas require more area, and certainly need more height, which includes, of course, the access to light and air movement. Hence, for larger plants it's necessary to think in terms of more cubic space as well.

Fig. 7. Pl#130610-2. Phalaenopsis hybrid ignominata. Digital photo DSC_4059; Sun-17Apr 11.

Fig. 8. Pl#190206-16. Phalaenopsis hybrid ignominata. Digital photo DSC_4060; Sun-17Apr 11.

Members of the genus Phalaenopsis fit this scenario. Although this editor is loath to buy any of the mass-marketed unnamed orchids, two are in the collection (Fig. 7) (Fig. 8). Both are the result of purchases by friends or disobedient offspring who then want "good-old-you-know-who" to repot and culture them until they flower again.

Yes, both are beautiful, but why pay a premium price for an unnamed hybrid when named hybrids are readily available through reputable orchid firms and hybridizers? The answer is obvious: all orchids are beautiful to the amateur's eye, and the urge to "impulse buy" can be overwhelming to the individual in the store or garden shop, particularly if they know next-to-nothing about orchids!

Fig. 9. Pl#140100-1. P. Taisuco Perherz. Digital photo DSC_4063; Sun-17Apr 11.

One phal hybrid that is named is Phalaenopsis Taisuco Perherz (Fig. 9). It puts out branching inflorescences and flowers on the main rachis as well as the branching ones. The plant figured on this page is holding two separate inflorescences that have lined up to make a profusely flowered cascade. The flowers of this clone are not large, but used for a corsage have done very well as a two-flowered offering. On the same occasion, a single flower served very well as a boutonnière.

Fig. 10. Pl#190206-1. Dendrobium aphyllum. Digital photo DSC_4067; Mon-18Apr 11.

On a lighter note, Dendrobium aphyllum (Fig. 10), hanging outdoors in the back patio shade house, is putting on a show of its own! Known from India, Skikkim, and Nepal and other areas of southeast Asia, this is another species that sheds its leaves prior to flowering. New growths are already appearing.

Fig. 11. Pl#280606-4. Lc. Aqui-Finn 'Shirley' AM/AOS. Digital photo DSC_4069a; Mon-18Apr 11.

Pl#280606-4. Lc. Aqui-Finn 'Shirley' AM/AOS (Fig. 11) is hanging on the back row and to the right of the Dendrobium aphyllum in the back patio. Not to be outdone, it's putting on a bit of a show itself. The plant is bearing 13 flowers and two buds this year. Yes, they're crowded, and the plant should have been depotted, probably divided and then repotted after last year's flowering, but it just didn't happen. Perhaps it will get done after this year's flowering.

Lc. Aqui-Finn is an old hybrid. It was registered in 1964 and was the progeny of C. Suavior and C. Irene Finney. It gets it splash petaling from C. Suavior which is--in turn--the progeny of C. intermedia and C. mendelii. This clone received an AM award of 80 points in March of 1980, and provides a good example of what one's orchid money might buy rather than succumb to the lure of whatever unnamed orchid plant is on the table at the local garden shop (for a higher price). Last year the records show this same plant flowering with a similar number of flowers in late March and throughout the month of April.

The flowers have a natural spread of 15-16 cm are fragrant, colorful, and long lasting. If your taste is for cattleyas, you couldn't go wrong culturing this one! Perhaps it really ought to be divided after it finishes flowering this season. There might just be a few members of the MIOS who'd like to culture it.

Fig. 12. Pl#160605-5. Maxillariella tenuifolia. Digital photo DSC_4016; Thur-07Apr 11.

Fig. 13. Pl#160605-5. Maxillariella tenuifolia. Digital photo DSC_4015; Thur-07Apr 11.

Grown for years as Maxillaria tenuifolia, this next one was reclassified in 2007 as Maxillariella tenuifolia. (Fig. 12) (Fig. 13). This species is known from Mexico throughout Central America to Nicaragua. With its diminutive size and flowers with the fragrance of coconut (some say strawberry), it's long been a favorite of orchid hobbyists.

Your editor recalls seeing a plant mass of this species growing high in a tree, in the area of Aquismón, San Luis Potosí, México. The plant mass was about two meters long, over a meter wide, and about a meter in depth! It was truly a massive and beautiful sight!

Fig. 14. Pl#140606-28. Cattleya forbesii 'Equilab AM/AOS. Digital photo DSC_4070; Mon-18Apr11.

From southeastern Brazil, east of Rio de Janiero to southwest of Sao Paulo, Cattleya forbesii (Fig. 14) was once common. However, the demands of agriculture with its resultant land clearing has severely decimated its once-wide habitat. It still survives in some of the coastal swamps and riverine forests, on trees draped with Spanish moss, bromeliads and other epiphytes. With the heavy epiphytic growths and forest over story, this little bifoliate thrives in relatively dim light compared to most of the monofoliate cattleyas.

This species is easy to culture, flowering from March through June, and even into July. For a particularly interesting account of this orchid, read about it in Fowlie's 1977 Brazilian bifoliate Cattleyas.

Fig. 15. Pl#080809-23. Brassia caudata. Digital photo DSC_4017; Thur-07Apr11.

Brassia caudata (Fig. 15) is widespread in the western hemisphere's tropics. It's found from southern Florida and the West Indies, and Mexico throughout Central America to Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. In US culture its peak flowering period is from April through September, but depending on the greenhouse heating and humidity it has been known to flower at almost anytime of the year. It's often confused with Brassia maculata, but the pseudobulbs of Brs. caudata carry 2 to 3 leaves whereas those of Brs. maculata are unifoliate.

Fig. 16. Pl#020809-29 Phragmipedium lindleyanum. Digital photo DSC_4054; Sun-17Apr11.

Below is a close-in figure of Phragmipedium lindleyanum (Fig. 16), but to offer the largest possible figure, more data is reserved for the following page.

Fig. 17. Pl#020809-29 Phragmipedium lindleyanum. Digital photo DSC_4054; Sun-17Apr11.

Pl#020809-29 Phragmipedium lindleyanum (Fig. 17) is known from Surinam, British Guyana, and Venezuela. It is usually found near waterfalls or other areas with a relatively moist substrate, and not at sea level elevations but from about 800 to 2200 meters. It is usually found in areas of lower light levels, but may be in more open areas at the higher elevations if the light is somewhat dappled. March through June is its peak flowering period. As with most phrags and paphs it needs a moist well-drained substrate that is never allowed to become completely dry. It bears multiple flowers which are large (5 to 9 cm across) and which open sequentially. Floral coloration is variable, but colorful.

Due to a lack of space, other orchids must be figured on this issue's covers.

Copyright © 2011 R J Ferry