The Species Identification Task Force Pinpoints Orchid Names

Posted February 25th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc

The Species Identification Task Force (SITF) sorts out difficult orchid identities. There are about 30,000 orchid species, and experts with the American Orchid Society work to verify whether awarded plants’ nametags are accurate. Whenever a species receives its first award, it’s automatically reviewed to authenticate its identity. Orchid judges may also ask for confirmation of previously awarded varieties. The SITF examines detailed photos and measurements of the flowers and plants. You can track their progress as they make tricky determinations at the SITF blog. Check out the high quality photos, and see which details help distinguish one orchid from another.

‘Like Finding Life on Mars’: Why the Underground Orchid is Australia’s Strangest, Most Mysterious Flower

Posted February 19th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Fragrant Orchids, In the News

If we find life on Mars, will it be as strange as Australia’s Underground Orchids? These bizarre plants, also known as Rhizanthellas, live their whole lives below ground. They even bloom underground, and smell like vanilla. Known to science since 1928, there are now five identified species around the continent. All five are endangered, and pose unusual conservation challenges, since it’s tough just to find them. Their small tubers and weird pink flowers rarely break the soil surface.

Almost all other orchids have tiny, dust-like seeds which blow in the wind, but Rhizanthella seeds are like little, vanilla-scented ball bearings. They’re probably eaten and dispersed by wallabies and bandicoots, but those animals are extinct in some areas. Reestablishing their populations may be necessary for the long-term survival of these orchids. For now, these alien flowers are still among us.

How to Care for Your Valentine’s Orchid

Posted February 14th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Phalaenopsis Yu Pin Burgundy, Moth Orchid hybrid flower, Phal, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchids, Moth Orchid hybrid flowers, Phal, white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchid, Moth Orchid hybrid flower, Phal, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Orchids have become a big part of Valentine’s Day. If you’ve received one as a gift, here are a few tips to keep your orchid happy and healthy:

To help flowers last longer, place the orchid in an area with high humidity. You can raise humidity levels by grouping plants together, placing them in a bathroom or kitchen, spraying with a mister, or using a cool mist humidifier.

When watering, remove wrappers or decorative containers, at least temporarily, if they block drainage holes. Soak the plant thoroughly with room-temperature water, and let all excess drain from the pot. Don’t let the flowerpot sit in water for too long, or the roots may rot.

Place cut flowers in lukewarm water, and keep out of direct sun. Change the water every couple of days. High humidity can help the blooms last longer.

Circling Around Daisy Orchids

Posted February 11th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing, Intermediate Growers, Photos, Warm Growers

Bulbophyllum makoyanum, AKA Cirrhopetalum makoyanum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2010, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum eberhardtii or bulhartii, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2011, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum habrotinum, AKA Cirrhopetalum habrotinum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, California

Bulbophyllum rothschildianum 'Red Chimney' FCC/AOS, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2012, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum tingabarinum var. album, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum mastersianum, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Daisy Orchids, or Cirrhopetalums, earn their nickname from their resemblance to daisies. However, with Daisy Orchids, what looks like separate petals of one large flower are actually separate flowers, each magnificently complex. These blooms are arranged in a circle or semicircle around a center stalk. Many varieties have long, tapering sepals, adding to their charms.

Bulbophyllum andersonii, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum annamense 'Crownpoint', AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, view of flowers from above, Montreal Botanical Garden, CanadaBulbophyllum graveolens, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Orchid Society of Northwest Pennsylvania Show 2010, Erie, Pennsylvania

Bulbophyllum AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid flowers, orange flowers, Orchids in the Park 2017, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum umbellatum, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum biflorum, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, grown indoors in San Francisco, California

Scientists have debated whether these orchids should be classified as Cirrhopetalums, or whether they belong in the vast and weird Bulbophyllum genus. Currently, they’re considered to be Bulbophyllums, but like many orchid name changes, the old names persist in common use. They’re native to a large area from India and China, throughout Southeast Asia to Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines, and as far as northern Australia and southern Japan.

Bulbophyllum thiurum, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2013, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum gracillimum, AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2012, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann 'Buckleberry', AKA Cirrhopetalum, Daisy Orchid, orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Daisy Orchids are considered among the easiest Bulbophyllums to grow if you can maintain consistently high humidity. They enjoy regular water and fertilizer, and do best on mounts or in baskets to accommodate their rambling growth. Depending on their native habitats, some are warm growers and some are intermediate. Most do not share the foul scents of their fellow Bulbophyllums, but I would still smell one before buying it to be sure. This post shows 14 different species, and one hybrid in the final photo, that have been called Cirrhopetalums, but there are many more Daisy Orchids going around.

Villagers and Forest Officials Breathe New Life into India’s Only Orchid Sanctuary

Posted February 7th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

In the Himalayan foothills of northeastern India, the country’s only orchid sanctuary has had a facelift. Founded in 1989, Sessa Orchid Sanctuary covers 39 square miles (100 square km) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, a biodiversity hotspot which is known as the “Orchid State of India.” Sessa villagers and government forest officials have installed a prominent new front gate and a boardwalk. There is also a new visitors’ trail with orchids identified along the way. The sanctuary contains over 230 native orchid species, including Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Coelogynes, and other endangered plants. The hope is to increase ecotourism to the area, and help to counter the threats of deforestation, overgrazing, and the illegal orchid trade.

February Orchid Events

Posted February 1st, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events

In addition to this short list of online events, many orchid societies have moved all their gatherings online. Monthly meetings, sales, auctions, and expert talks are easy to access with an internet connection. Check with your local society for more.

February 2
Orchid Mini Symposium, Advances in Australian Orchid Research (free webcast)
February 6
Virtual Orchid Speakers’ Day, American Orchid Society (five expert speakers, raffle prizes, register online, $30 fee)
February 6
Palestra Técnica OrquidaRio – Como Cultivar Paphiopedilum, presented by Graziela Meister (online lecture in Portuguese)

A Vanda Hybrid in Glass

Posted January 29th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos, Warm Growers

(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flower, purple flower, close up of flower lip, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

Vanda orchids are a great remedy for a chilly winter. These happy purple blossoms are shining through our gray and rainy days. They’re the epitome of tropical, and the blooms last for weeks. Each flower is over 4 inches (10 cm) wide and tall. Last year, I blogged about how to grow a Vanda in a glass vase.

(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers and green leaves, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, leaves and roots in a glass vase, purple flowers and green leaves, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flowers, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flower and buds, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California(Vanda Prayad Muang Ratch x Ascocenda Lena Kamolphan) x Vanda Srakaew, vanda hybrid orchid flower and buds, purple flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

These exotic orchids don’t want to be potted, but fortunately don’t mind having their roots crammed into a glass. That makes it much easier to water them, and to keep the humidity high. A shallow layer of water kept at the bottom of the vase will evaporate and raise the moisture level in the air.

Last year’s flowers lasted over two months. This year’s are still going strong after a month and a half. If you’ve got a warm, sunny spot with room for a vase, you can bloom these gorgeous orchids. too.

Three Online Orchid Sales

Posted January 24th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, In the News

Orchid lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area can take advantage of two local online sales. In addition, Hengduan Biotech in China is having an online sale that will ship most anywhere in the world.

Ongoing until January 29
The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley is renovating its Tropical House, and selling divisions and extra plants to make room. There are lots of orchids among the exotic plants for sale. You must pick up your purchase in Berkeley on Saturday, January 30th.

Ongoing until February 6
The Peninsula Orchid Society Winter Sale and Poster Auction offers Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Masdevallias, and much more. You must pick up your purchase on Saturday, February 6th in Half Moon Bay, California, south of San Francisco.

Ongoing until February 20
China’s highly-regarded Hengduan Mountains Biotechnology is offering an extensive list of orchid species and hybrids to be delivered in March 2021. They specialize in Lady Slippers and Chinese orchids, but have much, much more. The company ships overseas following CITES and phytosanitary regulations.

Our Winter Garden Blooms

Posted January 19th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Photos

Masdevallia chaparensis, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia chaparensis, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaEpidendrum flowers, orchid flowers and buds, red and yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cymbidium flowers, orchid hybrid flowers, yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium flowers, orchid hybrid flowers, white pink yellow and red flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium flowers, orchid hybrid flowers, white pink yellow and red flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

For over 30 years, I’ve been living and gardening in California, and I’ve certainly become spoiled by the fact that we can garden year-round here. But I did grow up in New Jersey, and went to college in upstate New York, so I also remember ice cold winters when nothing was growing. Outdoors was mostly brown and gray, or a white blanket of snow. How fortunate I am to be able to enjoy this mild climate instead. In the middle of January, we’re reveling in blooms on a Masdevallia, Epidendrum, Cymbidiums, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, and Laelia.

Arpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, clusters of small purple flowers with long green leaves, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaArpophyllum giganteum, Giant Hyacinth Orchid, clusters of small purple flowers with long green leaves, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLaelia anceps 'Helen', orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, flower with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Laelia anceps 'Helen', orchid species flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLaelia anceps 'Helen', orchid species flowers and bud, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLaelia anceps 'Helen', orchid species buds, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Of course, we have more than orchids in the garden. The row of photos below shows Fivespots, Nemophila maculata, a California native annual. It’s been a few years since I’ve grown them. On the coast they’re easy to start from seed. The flowers are simple but striking, and boast deep purple spots. I don’t know why some of the blooms have six spots instead of five, but I suppose they can’t count. If you’re enduring a harsh winter, enjoy our winter garden, and take these flowers as a sign of better things to come.

Fivespot, Nemophila maculata, California native, annual flower species, white flowers petals with purple spots and purple veining, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaFivespot, Nemophila maculata, California native, annual flower species, white flower petals with purple spots and purple veining, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaFivespot, Nemophila maculata, California native, annual flower species, white flowers, petals with purple spots and purple veining, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Online Orchid Fever Raises Alarm in Southeast Asia

Posted January 12th, 2021 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

Malaysian researchers are exposing the illegal plant trade on social media. Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar have thousands of native orchid species, many sought out by collectors. There has always been an orchid trade, but online sellers have a wider reach than ever before. Sites like Facebook and eBay are too vast to monitor, and take little action to block illegal sales. This has led to a rapid decline in biodiversity, as plants are irresponsibly stripped from the wild and sold to ignorant or unscrupulous buyers.

To counter the trend, Malaysian orchid lovers have created a new book, Orchids of Penang Hill. Their goal is to inspire locals to protect the area. They’ve also applied for the Penang Hill nature park to be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Across Southeast Asia, orchids are best protected in national or state parks. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society has been working with Myanmar’s Forest Department to help save wild plants from the human malady of orchid fever.