Saturday, December 17, 2011
When I first saw this little orchid I was totally stumped as to what orchid genus it could belong. My ignorance can be excused on the basis that I had never previously seen an orchid of the genus Porroglossum. These orchids are known for the particularity that they have a sensitive lip that retracts into the flower when touched. The movement is triggered by an insect which is forced the lip’s action into contact with the plant pollinia. There are a few specialists orchid growers in the United States that keep Porroglossum species but I have never seen this one before. The flowers are lovely but small, the inflorescence is quite long in comparison with the flower size. Because of the many other orchids with larger flowers in the Cabañas Armonia site I almost missed this one. I saw this plant in the town of Mindo Ecuador.
I found this Encyclia aspera plant growing in a garden in Mindo, Ecuador. The flowers were in poor condition probably due to insect attack. The plant was in a shady spot which probably accounts for the few flowered inflorescence as Encyclia are generally plants that need from bright light to full sun to do their best. This plant was rescued from an area where the vegetation was cut down to make way for a road. I must confess that as an orchidist it was a peculiar experience to walk the trails in the Mindo area and see hundreds of orchids of every imaginable description in the decaying branches that lay on the sides of the trails. I am sure that I would have been able to gather, just from the stuff lying on the ground, a collection of plants to rival that of a botanical garden in variety and sheer size. You might think I would have been tempted to gather a few of the choosiest varieties to take home but I knew better. Probably none of the plants would survive for long away from their native temperature and humidity regime in the Andes Mountains.
Many years ago an elderly friend of mine brought from Peru a Sobralia orchid. How he managed to pass through customs with that plant is mystery to me to this day as it was not a tiny thing. Well, things were different back then, and I am taking about a time decades before the terrorist attacks in New York made the airport inspectors adamant about groping everyone and their grandma. The moral I guess is that never underestimate an orchid grower hell bent on bringing an orchid home. My friend was as excited as a hen with a newly laid egg with his Sobralia plant. He waxed lyrical about the huge, brightly colored flowers of the orchid. He diligently showered tender and loving care on the orchid but it was all in vain. Shortly after arrival the plant leaves turned black, fell and then the rest of the plant became something similar but not quite exactly like, a pile of mush. Since then I have seen this chain of events replayed with a variety of orchids, all of them cooler growing plants brought on impulse by people dazzled by the beautiful or unusual flowers.
Friday, December 16, 2011
I brought this plant in 2005 from H&R Orchids in Hawaii. This plant has been a joy to have around. It blooms faithfully and has not been sick one day of the six years it has been with me. The quality of the flowers in consistently good although I must confess that if the flowers are a bit undersized or of a lesser than top quality it is entirely my fault and it is probably due to me slipping on its care. The plant has performed best when grown in bright light although I have never grown it in light as strong as the one Lc. Drumbeat ‘Heritage’. This plant has thrived with the same care I give all my other Cattleyas. I give them as bright light as they can tolerate short of sunburn and I fertilize it only when it is growing at the strength that is recommended on the label of the fertilizer. I potted it in a wire basket in which it has been growing with no problem for the last six years. My only complaint is that is has never produced a side shoot that would allow me to divide it into two plants.
One of the pleasures of traveling is finding things that are that surprise and delight with their mystery. I had one of these experiences with this orchid. This plant is the first Xylobium that I had ever seen. When I saw this plant I was stumped as to what genera it could belong to, something that doesn’t often happens to me. After checking a few books I concluded that it was probably a Xylobium. I posted a photo in the Orchid Source Forum and in a short time one of the members had identified it as Xylobium leonthoglossum. This plant was growing as a terrestrial on a bed on the orchid house of the Quito Botanical Gardens, Ecuador. The flowers are relatively small, I didn’t measure them exactly, but because they are presented in a group, they are quite eye catching with their soft pink color. These plants are sometimes kept by specialist growers but they are rare in cultivation. In fact I have never seen one exhibited in Puerto Rico.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
This orchid was photographed on the Quito Botanical Gardens, Ecuador. So far as I know this genus is not cultivated in Puerto Rico. The reason is probably the temperature requirements of the plants which need night temperatures in the middle forties to do well. These temperatures are only seen in Puerto Rico for brief periods, at the highest elevations in the very “depths” of our winter. The only place I saw this plant in Ecuador was in the Botanical Gardens.
I found this peculiar orchid in a fallen branch by the roadside on the area of Mindo, Ecuador. In the heteranthum group of Oncidium the inflorescences usually have many aborted flowers, in some species only the flower at the very tip of the inflorescence develops normally. In the case of this orchid, the plant producing the inflorescence was quite small and the inflorescence had only a single fully developed flower. I have not seen these plants in cultivation locally. I have tried to find the identity of this plant but so far have not found a clear match. The flowers are reminiscent of the flowers of Oncidium orthotis, a member of the heteranthum group. Unfortunately the illustrations I have seen are not good enough for a definite determination of the identity of this orchid.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
A large flowered red Maxillaria species from the Quito Botanical Gardens, somewhat reminicent of nigrescens
I found this orchid growing among the rocks in the display area of the Quito Botanical Gardens, Ecuador. The plant was growing at ground level and I would have missed it entirely if I had not looked between the boulders. It is a relatively small plant and it was overshadowed by the much larger plants that covered most of the display area. The flowers are brightly colored and reminiscent of Maxillaria nigrescens, although the flower in this photo is not exactly alike the plant in the book “Orchid Species of Peru”. But in orchids it is not advisable to make a definite identification of a plant just because of the color of its flowers.
This large flowered Maxillaria has white flowers with a yellow lip. The plant is growing at the side of the trail that is inside the orchid house. It is a huge specimen several feet wide. The flowers are quite showy but since the plant is planted at ground level you have to get on hands and knees to really appreciate their beauty. Once you are level with the plant it becomes apparent that there are a number of flowers that are hidden among the leaves of the plant. This orchid is among the most beautiful Maxillaria I have seen but the sheer size of the plant doesn’t recommend it much to greenhouse or windowsill growers. Most of the flowers were pure white but there was a single one that had a red tint on the sepals. It looked pretty much identical to the white ones except for the touch of color.
Friday, December 9, 2011
|A newly opened flower to the right and a mature one to the left|
I saw this orchid in the botanical garden of the city of Quito, Ecuador. This orchid was growing as an epiphyte on a large tree. The plant was growing at a height of about ten feet in the trunk of the tree. The inflorescence was five or six feet long and reached down just enough to allow me to photograph the flowers near the tip. In the Quito area temperatures vary between 45 F at night to 75 during the day. There are no seasons and this temperature regime stays the same year round. In the photo, in the right side, you can see a flower that has just opened. This flower shows very well the color and shape of the floral parts. In the mature flower the floral segments are strongly reflexed toward the back as can be seen in the flower on the left side of the photo.
|The orchid growing in situ|
Saturday, December 3, 2011
|La hembra (azul) enfrenta al macho con una actitud agresiva|
|El macho responde a la agresión dirigiendo fuertes aletazos en dirección de la cabeza de la hembra|
|La hembra atendió con gran dedicación la nidada de huevos|
|Se pueden ver alguno huevos que han desarrollado hongo (son las esferas blancas)|
eventualmente la hembra los remueve de la nidada
|La hembra siempre estaba muy alerta a mis movimientos mientras tomaba las fotos. En ocasiones se colocaba sobre los huevos lo que arruinaba la oportunidad de fotografiarlos.|
|Cuando los huevos comenzaron a eclosionar la hembra removió los alevines|
y los deposito en pequeñas pilas en el fondo de la cavidad.