Cochleanthes: An Orchid From the Amazon

Posted August 29th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fertilizing, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Intermediate Growers, Photos, Watering

I bought this gorgeous Cochleanthes at an orchid show five years ago, and it has been one of my most reliable bloomers ever since. Its captivating white flowers boast great purple highlights.

Warczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaClose up of Warczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaWarczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

This species is native to the Amazon Rainforest, from Brazil to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The flowers appear fragile, but they’re thick and waxy, and can last for months. These sparkling white blooms reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. My orchid books say this variety is very fragrant, but I’ve only detected a light scent from my plant.

Warczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaWarczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaClose up of purple vein pattern on Warczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

With thin leaves, this species needs frequent waterings and high humidity. Keep it in shady conditions, although a little morning sun is ok. Be cautious with repotting, since it has delicate roots. Fertilize weakly, weekly, and an occasional dose of compost will encourage blooming.

Warczewiczella amazonica flowers and leaves, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaClose up of purple vein pattern on Warczewiczella amazonica, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaWarczewiczella amazonica flowers and leaves, aka Cochleanthes amazonica, orchid species with white and purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

To pronounce Cochleanthes, say “coke-lee-ANN-these.” This species has recently been renamed, so it’s now called Warczewiczella amazonica. I can’t figure out how to pronounce that, so I’ll stick with the old name. And I’ll continue to enjoy a colorful little part of the Amazon Rainforest in my home.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory

Posted August 24th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UK, with Eschscholzia californica or California Poppy in bloom in cactus and succulent gardenView from outside Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKWater lily in bloom in Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UK

The Princess of Wales Conservatory is one of Kew Gardens’ greatest treasures. Opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1987, this enormous glasshouse features 10 different climate zones with extraordinary plant displays. The building itself is a modern counterpoint to the historic Victorian style of the Palm House, located a short walk away.

Grammatophyllum scriptum, Bell Orchid, orchid species flower in Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKDendrobium chrysotoxum, Fried Egg Orchid, orchid species flower in Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKPlant with variegated leaves in Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UK

The conservatory hosts incredible orchid displays, with a room for Tropical Orchids, and a separate one for Temperate Orchids. Most of the orchid photos from my first and second Kew posts were from these areas. There are also desert, rainforest, fern, and carnivorous plant zones.

Cacti and succulents in Tropical Desert Zone, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKEchinopsis huascha cactus with brilliant red blooms, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKTropical Rainforest Zone, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UK

The largest rooms house the Tropical Desert and the Tropical Rainforest. These photos just scratch the surface of the conservatory’s riches. Learn more about the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew’s website, and don’t miss it if you’re in London!

Pink and green variegated leaves, Tropical Rainforest Zone, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKWater lilies with a reflection of the glasshouse roof in the water, Tropical Rainforest Zone, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UKPassiflora Lady Margaret, red purple and white passionflower, Tropical Rainforest Zone, Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens, London, UK

US Battles to Save Illegally Trafficked Plants

Posted August 18th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

The illegal plant trade endangers many rare plant species, and orchids are prime targets. International agreements prohibit this trade, so what happens when illegally trafficked plants are found and confiscated? The BBC reports that species seized in the USA become property of the government, which places them in a rescue program. Many of the plants are dried or damaged during their travels. More than 80 botanic institutions provide a network to save the endangered varieties.

It’s important to save such plants, not only to protect endangered species, but because the plants themselves may be required in court as evidence of trafficking. And their country of origin may request their return. Eventually institutions such as the US Botanic Garden can incorporate them into their collections – but they are never resold and nobody profits from their commercial value.

Advances in education and technology can slow the illegal plant trade. You can help by pledging to always buy orchids from reputable vendors, and never to buy a plant taken from the wild. Ask if you’re not sure.

Exploring the Palm House at Kew Gardens

Posted August 13th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos, Warm Growers

The Palm House is a remarkable, historic masterpiece, and also home to a living, tropical rainforest. First opened in 1848, this glasshouse stands as an icon of Kew Gardens. The Palm House’s enormous steel frame holds 16,000 panes of glass. Along with tropical palms, it features many more exotic plants, too.

Palm House, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKPalm House with Rose Garden in foreground, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKPalm House side door, side view of glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UK

Orchids hang throughout the Palm House, but only a couple were in bloom during our visit at the beginning of summer. The Cymbidium species in the next photo was one of the orchids enjoying the warmth and humidity. At the end of the next row of photos, a bizarre bloom from a small, tropical tree resembles a jellyfish more than a flower.

Cymbidium finlaysonianum, orchid species, Palm House, Kew Gardens, London, UKPalm House, view of large tropical plants inside glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKNapoleonaea vogelii, common name: Wallia, strange jellyfish-shaped flower of tree species, Palm House, Kew Gardens, London, UK

The Palm House is a multi-level experience. Staircases lead to an upper walkway with spectacular views of the jungle canopy. The basement level contains aquariums with plants and fish from several marine ecosystems.

Palm House view of large tropical plants from upper walkway, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKPalm House view of large tropical plants from upper walkway, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKPalm House, view of hanging staghorn fern and other tropical plants inside glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UK

Among its lush beauty, the Palm House is home to the world’s oldest potted plant, shown in the final photo below. This cycad palm was originally sent by ship from South Africa in 1773, over 240 years ago. It arrived at Kew in 1775, and was one of the first plants moved into the Palm House when it opened. It’s another one of Kew’s remarkable, historic treasures.

Hibiscus storckii pink form, plant species flower, Palm House, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKLight-blue bananas growing in the Palm House, glasshouse, Kew Gardens, London, UKEncephalartos altensteinii, cycad species, maybe the oldest potted plant in the world at the Palm House, arrived at Kew Gardens in 1775, London, UK

More From Orchids in the Park

Posted August 7th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Enjoy these photos from July’s Orchids in the Park in San Francisco. Brilliant orchid colors and strange flower shapes filled the show.

Phragmipedium kovachii hybrid, large pink Lady Slipper flower, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum alatum, orchid species, white yellow light-green reddish-purplish flower, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBarkeria spectabilis, orchid species, white and purple flower, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Colorful miniatures competed for my camera with their dinner-plate sized orchid cousins. Flowers with twisted horns like an antelope stole the focus from other blooms with more vivid hues. The diversity always seems endless in the orchid world. Check back soon for more photos.

Phalaenopsis minus, miniature orchid species, pink yellow and white flowers, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCattleya gaskelliana, orchid species, purple and white flower, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaGomesa gardneri, aka Oncidium gardneri, orchid species, yellow brown and dark purple flower, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Dendrobium stratiotes, Antelope Dendrobium, orchid species, white yellow-green and purple flower with spiral petals like antelope horns, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaHabenaria rhodocheila orange form, orchid species, orange flowers, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaOncidium walllisii, aka Odontoglossum wallisii, orchid species, yellow brown white and purple flowers, Orchids in the Park, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

August Orchid Shows

Posted August 1st, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Orchid shows are truly global, but this month it’s especially obvious: the first five listings below are on five different continents. No matter where you are, orchid shows are great ways to see gorgeous flowers, talk to orchid experts, take pictures, and buy plants for your collection.

August 1 – 2
Queensburgh Orchid Club Show, Kloof Town Hall, 31 Old Main Rd., Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
August 2
Orchid Society of Greater St. Louis Annual Auction, Missouri Botanical Garden, Beaumont Room, 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri
August 2
Penang Bi-Monthly Orchid Show, Penang Botanical Garden, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
August 5
Newcastle Orchid Society Winter Show, Edgeworth Shopping Centre, Main Rd., Edgeworth, NSW, Australia
August 5 – 9
Orquideas, Pajaros y Flores, Jardin Botanico, Carrera 52, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia
August 7
Santa Cruz Orchid Society Silent Auction & Ice Cream Social, Live Oak Grange Hall, 1900 17th Ave., Santa Cruz, California
August 7 – 8
Houston Orchid Society Summer Workshop, Jerabeck Center, Univ. of St. Thomas, 4000 Mt. Vernon St., Houston, Texas
August 7 – 8
Maroochydore Orchid Society Show, Community Hall, Millwell Rd. E., Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia
August 7 – 9
Hilo Orchid Society Show & Sale, Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, 323 Manono St., Hilo, Hawaii
August 7 – 9
Orchids by the Sea, Dee Why RSL Club, Pittwater Rd., Dee Why, NSW, Australia

Read the rest of this post »

Orchids in the Park

Posted July 28th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii agathodaemonis type, miniature orchid species, pink white and orange flowers, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaSobralia xantholeuca, orchid species, yellow and light pink flower, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBroughtonia sanguinea, orchid species, pink and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Every year, Orchids in the Park puts on an amazing display. This past weekend, the event again filled Golden Gate Park with fantastic orchids. San Francisco’s smaller annual show can’t compare with the Pacific Orchid Expo’s size and spectacle, but it always boasts outstanding and unusual plants. Of course, I especially love the bizarre varieties, which stretch the definition of what a flower can be. Check back soon for more photos from this remarkable event.

Bulbophyllum dearei 'John's Island' HCC/AOS, yellow white and purple flower, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaHabenaria medusa, orchid species, white green and red flower, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum sukhakulii alba 'Holy Moley' x 'Tamien', Lady Slipper orchid species, red green and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2015, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Orchid Observers: A Citizen Science Project

Posted July 26th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News, Orchids in the Wild, Videos

London’s Natural History Museum needs your help. The museum has started an Orchid Observers citizen science project, and it’s looking for volunteers to help study how climate change is affecting native British orchids. Scientists have already found that some species have been blooming earlier, consistent with warmer springtime temperatures.

At Orchid Observers, you can choose whether to photograph native orchids, identify the orchid species in the pictures, or transcribe data from online museum specimens. Of course, you need to be in Britain to take photos, but anyone in the world can help examine pictures or plant specimens online.

Check out the video below for more. It includes some spectacular footage of the native British orchid species you’ll be helping.

Orchids in the Park Is Coming!

Posted July 22nd, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

The San Francisco Orchid Society presents Orchids in the Park this coming weekend, July 25th – 26th. Check out the orchids at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, near the park entrance by 9th Avenue & Lincoln Way. Enjoy orchid displays, vendors, talks by orchid experts, book sales, and raffles. To further whet your orchid appetite, here are a few photos from past events. Don’t miss it!

Cirrhopetalum makoayanum, orchid species, Orchids in the Park 2010, San Francisco, CaliforniaLaeliocattleya flower, orchid hybrid, purple and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2010, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrochilum magnum, orchid species, long chain of small greenish white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2010, San Francisco, California

Orchids at Chelsea Physic Garden

Posted July 17th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Photos

Where can you find orchids in London besides Kew Gardens? Try the smaller, lesser-known, and older Chelsea Physic Garden. Inside its glasshouses, Chelsea Physic Garden houses a small but impressive orchid display. Founded in 1673 to study medicinal plants, it’s one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, 86 years older than Kew. I visited at the end of June, and found some great orchids in bloom. There were several beautiful and bizarre Stanhopeas in bud, and a couple more in flower.

Stanhopea oculata 'Aurea', orchid species in bloom at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UKStanhopea oculata 'Aurea' flower buds, orchid species at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UKStanhopea oculata 'Aurea', orchid species flowers at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UK

These orchids were on display in the glasshouses next to the Gift Shop. The Tropical Corridor Glasshouse showcased this brilliant white Sobralia blossom and climbing Vanilla vine.

Sobralia macrantha, orchid species with white and yellow flower at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UKVanilla planifolia, orchid species, vine growing up wall in Tropical Corridor Glasshouse, at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UKLycaste x groganii, natural orchid hybrid, yellow flower side view, at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UK

There were several large orchids hanging in intermediate glasshouses, too, including the Dendrobium and Coelogyne in the final two photos. They must be spectacular when in bloom, and they’re both fragrant, also.

Chelsea Physic Garden, Tropical Corridor, inside view of glasshouse, London, UKDendrobium kingianum, orchid species hanging in glasshouse at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UKCoelogyne cristata, orchid species hanging in glasshouse at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, UK, unfortunately not in bloom

Orchids are just a small part of Chelsea Physic Garden. Its main displays highlight medicinal, edible, and other useful plants, and also feature a new woodland grove. Don’t miss historic Chelsea Physic Garden when visiting London!