November Orchid Shows

Posted October 31st, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Orchid shows abound in every corner of the planet. All of these events offer great opportunities to enjoy wonderful blooms, take pictures, talk to experts, and buy plants for your orchid collection.

November 1
Orchid Society of Great Britain Autumn Show, Wraysbury Village Hall, The Green, Wraysbury, Staines, UK
November 1
Jamaica Orchid Society Meeting & Awards Judging, Jamaica Horticultural Society Building, JHS Showgrounds, Gibson Dr., Hope Pastures, Kingston 6, Jamaica
November 1 – 2
Santa Cruz Orchid Society Show & Sale, Soquel High School, 401 Old San Jose Rd., Soquel, California
November 1 – 2
Kansas Orchid Society Fall Show & Sale, Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, 701 Amidon St., Wichita, Kansas
November 1 – 2
Utah Orchid Society Fall Show, Red Butte Gardens, 303 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah
November 1 – 2
Essex County Orchid Society Show & Sale, Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens, 1550 Road 3 E. Ruthven, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada
November 1 – 2
North Shore Orchid Society Show, St. Anne’s Hall, Beach & Glencoe Rds., Browns Bay, New Zealand
November 1 – 2
North Moreton Queensland Orchid Council Show, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Auditorium, Mt. Coot-Tha Rd., Toowong, Queensland, Australia
November 1 – 2
Stawell Orchid Society Summer Show, Centenary Hall, Main St., Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia
November 1 – 2
Tweed District Orchid Society Show, Tweed Diamond Jubilee Spectacular, Brett St., Tweed Heads South, NSW, Australia

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Haunting Orchids

Posted October 27th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, Misc, Photos

Boo! There are orchids for every occasion, even Halloween. Here are some spooky orchids to haunt you, if you’re not too scared to go further…

Ghost Orchids (first photo)
The famous stars of The Orchid Thief earn a phantasmic name from their weird white blooms. Since these strange plants are leafless, the flowers seem to emerge from nowhere, and hover in the air like bizarre, ghostly apparitions.

Dracula Orchids (second photo)
These orchids hang upside down like bats, wear monkey masks, and smell like musty fungus. In the photo below, the black flower of Dracula vampira leaves a biting impression.

Spider Orchids (third photo)
Spider Orchids, or Brassias, don’t have eight legs, but their long petals help make them great arachnid mimics. They’re good enough to convince spider-hunting wasps to attack. It’s a freaky, sneaky way of tricking the wasps into pollinating them.

Ghost Orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, shown at Orchid Society of NW Pennsylvania Show, Erie, PA, Spring 2010Dracula vampira ‘Walter’ x sib, orchid species with black flowers, Orchids in the Park, San Francisco, 2013Brassia flower, Spider Orchid, at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Papaikou, Big Island, 2012

Bulbophyllums (fourth and fifth photos)
Some Bulbophyllum flowers stink like rotting meat. Others foul the air with a scent which smells like something you scraped off the bottom of your shoe. They’re beautiful blooms with foul fragrances.

Laelia anceps (sixth photo)
This native Mexican species traditionally decorates graves on the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. Would you like these haunting orchids on your tombstone?

Bulbophyllum echinolabium (‘Golden Gate’ x self), orchid species, shown at Orchids in the Park 2011, San FranciscoBulbophyllum graveolens, orchid species, shown at Orchid Society of NW Pennsylvania Show, Erie, PA, Spring 2010Laelia anceps, orchid species, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California, traditonally placed on graves on the Day of the Dead in Mexico

Find more spooky orchids at Smithsonian Gardens. Happy Halloween!

Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Posted October 22nd, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, General Gardening, Photos

Would you visit a garden in a volcanic crater?  We did!  Koko Crater Botanical Garden in Honolulu is a remarkable desert paradise. It sits in an extinct volcanic crater on the southeast corner of Oahu, near its larger, more famous neighbor, Diamond Head. It’s too dry for orchids at Koko, but there’s plenty of tropical desert beauty. These tough plants feature architectural shapes, brilliant flower colors, and pointed defenses. A few spiky cactus photos start this Koko tour.

Golden Barrel Cactus and other cacti, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiTall White Cactus, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiContorted Cactus, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

This blooming crater is part of Honolulu Botanical Gardens. It’s a public park with free admission, open daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can hike a 2 mile (3.2 km) loop trail through 60 acres (24 hectares) of desert plants (bring water for the walk!) The hot, dry regions of Africa, Madagascar, the Americas, and, of course, Hawaii are featured in different sections. Other collections include Koko’s huge plumeria trees, which sport more colors of of these flowers than I’ve ever seen.

Pink and yellow Plumeria hybrid, Frangipani, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiPink Plumeria, Frangipani, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiPink, white, and yellow Plumeria, Frangipani, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Many of the garden’s plants are rare and facing extinction, like two endangered Hawaiian species in the next row of photos: a red hibiscus from Kauai, and a fascinating wiliwili tree in bloom. The endangered Dragon’s Blood Tree in the third photo is native to a few islands in the Indian Ocean.

Hibiscus newhousei native to Kauai, Hawaiian endemic, Koki'o 'ula, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiWiliwili flowers, Erythrina sandwicensis, Hawaiian native endemic, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiDragon's Blood Tree, Dracaena cinnabari, native to the Socotra archipelago in the Indian Ocean, growing at the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Koko is a great showcase for interesting, low-water garden options. Of course, many of these tough desert plants need more sun and warmer temps than we can provide on the Northern California coast, but others are hardy enough to survive outside the tropics. There are always lots of gardening options, even in California’s current drought emergency. Just look to Koko Crater Botanical Garden for inspiration.

Cactus flower, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiYellow flower of Uncarina peltata, native to Madagascar, growing at Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiStapelia, Carrion Flower, African Starfish Flower, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

New Orchid Named for Jane Goodall

Posted October 15th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Books, Conservation, Fragrant Orchids, In the News

A newly discovered Dendrobium species has been named to honor Jane Goodall. In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to nature conservation and animal welfare, Dutch scientists dubbed the new orchid Dendrobium goodallianum. The new species is native to New Guinea. Its flowers last only one day, and they smell like coconut.

New orchid species are discovered often, and the discoverer gets naming rights. This isn’t the first time Dame Goodall has been honored with an orchid. In 2004, a Spathoglottis hybrid was named in her honor as Spathoglottis Jane Goodall. She is a leading naturalist, author, and the world’s top expert on chimpanzees. In her new book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants, Goodall explores the glories of plants, and explains why healthy trees and plants are essential for the planet’s health.

Grammatophyllum Orchids

Posted October 9th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Photos, Warm Growers

Grammatophyllum orchids make a big impression. These large beauties are native to hot, steamy jungles in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Dave and I have seen them in Hawaii before, but never in bloom until our recent visit to Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu. We not saw only one, but three different Grammatophyllum varieties flowering at Foster. I’ve already blogged about the first one, the Tiger Orchid, which is the largest orchid in the world. Here are the other two we saw — not as big, but no less splendid in their tropical grandeur. The first one is the Leopard Orchid, Grammatophyllum scriptum, named for its spotted flowers.

Grammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species, in flower at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species, flower close up at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species flowers at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Grammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species flower with water drops at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species flowers at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, orchid species, flower close up at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Leopard Orchids are smaller than their Tiger Orchid relatives, but they can still take lots of space, especially with their tall flower spikes. The photos for the second variety below show the same species as above, but this cultivar has greenish yellow blossoms instead. If you look closely, you can see the faint outlines of the leopard spot patterns. For good measure, there’s one more photo of the Tiger Orchid at the end, so all three types are in the same post.

To grow Grammatophyllums, give them lots of full sun, warm temps, regular waterings, regular fertilizer, and high humidity. Besides being known for the size, Grammatophyllums are also known for their stubbornness. Most bloom only once every two or three years. So, if you have lots of space and patience, Grammatophyllums may be the orchids for you.

Grammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’, Leopard Orchid, orchid species with greenish yellow flowers, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’, Leopard Orchid, orchid species with greenish yellow flowers, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’, Leopard Orchid, side view of flower, orchid species with greenish yellow flowers, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Grammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’, Leopard Orchid, orchid species with greenish yellow flowers, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum ‘Hihimanu’, Leopard Orchid, orchid species seedpod with old flower attached, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum speciosum, Tiger Orchid, orchid species, in flower at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

October Orchid Shows

Posted October 1st, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

From Fresno to Florida, and Prague to Tasmania, these shows demonstrate orchids’ global appeal. The world’s largest, most diverse flower family awaits visitors at every event.

October 1 – 13
Central California Orchid Society Show, Big Fresno Fair, Floriculture Building, 1121 S. Chance Ave., Fresno, California
October 2 – 4
Maitland & Coalfields District Orchid Society Show, Rutherford Market Place, Rutherford, NSW, Australia
October 2 – 5
Maui Orchid Society Show, Maui County Fair, War Memorial Gymnasium, 700 Halia Nakoa St., Wailuku, Hawaii
October 2 – 5
Portland Orchid Society Fall Show & Sale, Portland Metropolitan EXPO Center, 2060 N. Marine Dr., Portland, Oregon
October 2 – 5
Orchidea Bohemica, Prague Exhibiton Centre, Beranovych st. 667, 199 00 Prague 9, Czech Republic
October 3 – 4
Howick Orchid Society Spring Show, Fencible Lounge, Uxbridge Rd., Howick, New Zealand
October 3 – 5
Miami International Orchid Show, Univ. of Miami, Bank United Center, 1245 Dauer Dr., Coral Gables, Florida
October 3 – 5
Susquehanna Orchid Society Show & Sale, Ware Center, Millersville Univ., N. Prince St., Lancaster, Pennsylvania
October 3 – 5
Devonport Orchid Society Spring Show, Maidstone Park Hall, Spreyton, Tasmania, Australia
October 3 – 5
Southern Orchid Spectacular, Caringbah High School, 85 Willarong Rd., Caringbah, NSW, Australia

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Lyon Arboretum

Posted September 28th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Conservation, Photos

In the verdant Manoa Valley above Honolulu, Lyon Arboretum boasts a rainforest full of botanical treasures. Over 5000 plant varieties fill almost 200 acres (81 hectares) of jungle. There aren’t many orchids, but there are many other incredible tropical flowers and gorgeous views.

Blue Ginger flowers and buds, Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, at Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiView of trees and mountains at Inspiration Point, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiVireya Rhododendron flowers, at Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, Hawaii

Almost a century ago, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association set this land aside to protect the watershed for growing sugarcane. Now, Lyon Arboretum is run by the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, and shines as a world leader in tropical plant conservation. For visitors, there are over 7 miles (11 km) of hiking trails, which weave through different gardens, and up to a small waterfall. The grounds include a native Hawaiian garden, herb & spice garden, bromeliad garden, children’s garden, a palm garden with one of the largest collections in the world, and much more. With so many exotic plants, it’s jammed-packed with tropical beauty, especially when some leaves are colorful enough to compete with flowers.

Hiking trail, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiColorful leaves, hot pink and green leaves, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiGreen and yellow ginger flower, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, Hawaii

We found some orchids mounted on trees and branches, like the vanilla orchid vine climbing up a tree trunk in the next photo. Unfortunately, none of the orchids were in bloom, but there was much more to capture our attention in the jungle trails. Besides the trees, plants, and birds, mosquitoes were another reminder of our rainforest location, and unfortunately we forgot to bring the bug spray. We got lots of itchy bites, so remember yours if you visit. We noticed that some locals hiking the trails were wearing long sleeves and long pants, which is a good alternative if you’re not fond of pesticides.

 Vanilla planifolia vine growing up tree, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiEtlingera cornerii, Rose of Siam, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiMoss growing up side of tree, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, Hawaii

Spiral Ginger, Costus pulverulentus, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiRain shelter and lotus pond, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, HawaiiAechmea bromeliad flower, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu, Hawaii

In case these photos aren’t enough to convince you to visit Lyon Arboretum, I’ll have more pictures coming soon. Check out the Friends of Lyon Arboretum to help support the gardens and keep them thriving.

The Biggest Orchid in the World

Posted September 22nd, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Photos, Warm Growers

Welcome today’s change of seasons with the Tiger Orchid, the biggest orchid in the world! Dave and I spotted this jumbo beauty during our recent visit to Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu. This was the first time we’ve ever seen one in bloom. The Tiger Orchid’s Latin name, Grammatophyllum speciosum, seems to fit this large plant.

Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiClose up of flower lip, Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flowers and buds, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Close up of flower lip of Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

These giants are native to rainforests from Thailand and Myanmar through Southeast Asia to Malaysia, Singapore, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Believe it or not, they’re air plants, although they can grow larger than a ton. This specimen at Foster wasn’t a ton, but we estimated it was about 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, 8 feet (2.4 m) across, and very heavy. It held hundreds of flowers, each about 4 inches (10 cm.)

Grammatophyllums are Cymbidium relatives. They need warm temps, lots of full sun, and regular water. In Hawaii, we’ve seen them growing in large, specially constructed, wooden baskets. Sometimes they’re set on elevated platforms made of wood, stone, or brick.

Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flowers, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species flower, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species plant, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species plant, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii Grammatophyllum speciosum, orchid species plant, giant orchid, tiger orchid, sugar cane orchid, or queen of the orchids, at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

This plant had purplish brown spots on a white background, but most of this species’ photos and descriptions depict spots on a golden yellow background. Those colors inspire the common name Tiger Orchid. To learn more about the biggest orchid in the world, check out the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s story and photos about repotting their 300 pound (136 kg) Tiger Orchid.

Deceptive Orchids

Posted September 20th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News

Australian Geographic exposes Deceptive Orchids: Luring Wasps for Pollination. The diverse orchid family employs a wide range of pollination strategies, including trickery. Using special perfumes and flower shapes, some orchids fool male wasps into thinking they’ve found a female. While visiting the flowers, the wasps transfer pollen, and fertilize the orchids. Several groups of orchids around the globe use this ruse, but Australia is home to the most of these tricksters, with over 250 native species adopting the strategy. Their nicknames, like Hammer Orchid, Flying Duck Orchid, Purple Enamel Orchid, and Elbow Orchid, describe how they appear to human eyes. Male wasps, however, see seductive lures. Be sure to check out the great deceptive orchids photo gallery. Do these flowers fool you?

Orchids at Foster Botanical Garden

Posted September 15th, 2014 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos, Warm Growers

If you want to see orchids in Honolulu, visit Foster Botanical Garden. Hawaii’s oldest botanical garden showcases exotic orchids in several areas of its 13.5 acre (5.5 hectare) grounds. Photos from our recent visit start below with three spectacular blossoms: a Tiger Orchid, a Leopard Orchid, and a purple Miltonia. These warm growers are the epitome of tropical beauty. I’ll have much more about the Tiger Orchid and the Leopard Orchid in another post coming soon!

Grammatophyllum speciosum, Tiger Orchid, largest orchid plant in the world, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiGrammatophyllum scriptum, Leopard Orchid, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiMiltonia flower, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Brilliant orchid colors and bizarre flower shapes abound at Foster. An Antelope Dendrobium earns its nickname from petals spiraling up like horns. Spider Orchids with long, skinny petals entice spider-hunting wasps to attack their flowers, and then pollinate them. The Clamshell Orchid looks more like an octopus orchid to me, admittedly with only five legs.

Antelope Dendrobium flowers, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiBrassia flowers, Spider Orchid, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiProsthechea cochleata or Encyclia cochleata, Clamshell Orchid, orchid species, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Warm growers at Foster live both indoors and out. In the next photo, a cheery pink and yellow Spathoglottis basks in the sun outside Foster’s Conservatory. Inside the glasshouse, the next two Moth Orchids enjoy protection from the elements. Two Vandas and a Dendrobium hybrid also help fill Foster with tropical beauty. This garden is definitely worth a visit!

Spathoglottis hybrid orchid in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiMiniature Phalaenopsis flower, Moth Orchid, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiPhalaenopsis violacea indigo blue x self, Moth Orchid, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii

Vanda flowers in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiVanda flower side view at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, HawaiiDendrobium flowers, orchid hybrid, in bloom at Foster Botanical Garden, Honolulu, Hawaii