Beetles Pollinated Orchids 20 Million Years Ago

Posted August 25th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, QuickPost

Frozen inside ancient amber from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, tiny beetles are carrying orchid pollen. Their modern beetle relatives are not known to help pollinate any orchids, but 20-million-year-old amber proves that they once did. Some of the amber may be 45 million years old, stretching their connection back even further.

Native British Orchids

Posted August 21st, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Orchids in the Wild

Check out the blog of nature writer and photographer Jon Dunn, featuring lots of great photos and stories of native British orchids in the wild. Some of his recent posts include “Epipactis Heaven and Helleborine”, “Orchids of the Highlands and Islands”, “To Bee or Not Too Bee”, and “Lady, Man, Monkey and Chimaera Orchids”, and many more from the British Isles. Though they’re not as brilliant as their tropical cousins, these native UK orchids are tough. Some even survive in Dunn’s home in Scotland’s chilly Shetland Islands, which is much better known for warm Shetland wool than for orchids. Dunn’s writings demonstrate his extensive knowledge of his wild photo subjects, which helps him find these remarkable orchids in unexpected places. Find more of his work at jondunn.com.

The Tiniest Orchid Flowers

Posted August 14th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Mini Orchids, Photos, Warm Growers

This isn’t just a miniature orchid — it’s a micro orchid! When we went to Orchids in the Park a couple weeks ago, nobody was expecting to see one of the tiniest orchid flowers in the world. Dave didn’t have his macro lens, but he did pretty well with his regular camera. This mini Platystele flower is only 0.1 inch (2.5 mm) across! For a little perspective, that’s about the size of a flea, or the head of a pin.

Platystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPlatystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species flower and buds, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPlatystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species flower and buds, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, California

This Pleurothallid, Platystele jungermannioides, isn’t even as big as its name. For comparison, the entire plant is smaller than a US dime, which is about 0.7 inches (17 mm) across. This species was thought to have the tiniest orchid flowers, but a species with smaller flowers was discovered in 2006. This is certainly one of the tiniest orchid flowers Dave has ever photographed, and he’s tackled miniatures like Trichosalpinx and many more. Contrast these micro orchids with floral giants like a 9 inch (23 cm) PK or a 2 ½ foot (76 cm) Phrag, These size differences again demonstrate the incredible diversity of the orchid world.

Platystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species plant with flowers mounted on cork, next to a US dime for size comparison, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPlatystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species plant mounted on cork, leaves and roots growing with moss, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, CaliforniaPlatystele jungermannioides, miniature orchid species flower and buds, Pleurothallid, one of the tiniest orchid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, San Francisco, California

Ghost Orchid Scientists Aim to Restore Rare Florida Flowers

Posted August 9th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, Fragrant Orchids, In the News, Photos, Warm Growers

Scientists are working to restore wild populations of Florida’s native orchids, including the famous Ghost Orchid. Seedlings grown in labs are being transplanted in the Everglades. So far, results have been promising, with many young plants surviving the move. For most of the year, these bizarre, leafless orchids are simply masses of roots attached to trees, sharing the swamps with alligators, mosquitoes, and leeches. But for a week or two in summer, they bloom with exquisite white flowers which seem to float in the air. Habitat destruction, poaching of wild plants, and pollution have decimated wild Ghost Orchid populations. Fortunately, restoration projects like this and the Million Orchid Project are bringing hope that these rare treasures can be saved.

Ghost Orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, orchid species

More Photos from Orchids in the Park

Posted August 5th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Zygopetalum flower, Zygo, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum Magic Lantern, Lady Slipper flower, orchid hybrid, mottled leaves, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea f. alba, white orchid species flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Phalaenopsis flowers, Moth Orchids, Phal hybrids, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMaxillaria cucullata, dark red orchid species flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDoritis champorensis var. alba, Phalaenopsis, Moth Orchid, yellow and white flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

I’ve found more great flowers from Orchids in the Park 2016. Fragrant orchids, mini orchids, jewel orchids and more filled the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. Moth Orchids and Lady Slippers abounded, too. Check back soon for more photos from this spectacular event.

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii, miniature orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaAranda Jairak White, Vanda orchid hybrid, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaAnoectochilus lanceolatus, Jewel Orchid species, variegated leaves, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Doritis champorensis pink, Phalaenopsis, Moth Orchid, purple and orange flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium Eltonense, orchid hybrid, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis, Moth Orchid, Phal hybrid flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

August Orchid Shows

Posted August 1st, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

Orchid shows, auctions, and conferences abound this month. From Canada to Brazil, from Australia to Sweden, these events provide opportunities to enjoy beautiful flowers, talk to orchid experts, take photos, and buy plants for your collection.

August 1 – 4
Native Orchid Conference, Cochise College Benson Center, Benson, Arizona
August 3 – 7
Exposición Orquídeas, Pájaros, Flores y Feria de Artesanías, Jardín Botánico, Carrera 52, Medellin, Colombia
August 4 – 7
Five Dock RSL Orchid Society Show, Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre, Roseby St., Drummoyne, NSW, Australia
August 5
Santa Cruz Orchid Society Silent Auction & Ice Cream Social, Live Oak Grange Hall, 1900 17th Ave., Santa Cruz, California
August 5 – 6
Cattleya Symposium, Indian River Research and Education Center, 2199 South Rock Rd., Ft. Pierce, Florida
August 5 – 6
Houston Orchid Society Summer Workshop, Jerabeck Center, Univ. of St. Thomas, 4000 Mt. Vernon St., Houston, Texas
August 5 – 6
Maroochydore Orchid Society Show, Community Hall, Millward Rd. E., Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia
August 5 – 7
Manly Warringah Orchid Society Show, Dee Why RSL Club, Pittwater Rd., Dee Why, NSW, Australia
August 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Varginha, Corredor Cultural, Praça Matheus Tavares, Centro, Varginha, Minas Gerais, Brazil
August 5 – 7
Exposição Nacional de Orquídeas de Pirassununga, CEFE Presidente Médice, Pirassununga, São Paulo, Brazil

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The Rarest Plant in Britain Makes a Ghostly Appearance

Posted July 28th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, In the News

A British ghost haunts the forests. National Geographic details the reappearance of the bizarre Ghost Orchid (different than the famous Ghost Orchid native to Florida.) This spectral orchid, Epipogium aphyllum, only seems to show up in Britain once every few decades. It has no chlorophyll, but instead lives as a parasite on a fungus.

The Ghost Orchid is a rare phantom throughout its huge range from Europe across northern Asia. It’s known to appear once, and then never return to that spot again, leading to it occasionally being declared extinct. But instead of staying dead, it pops up decades later in a completely different location.  Science writer Richard Fortey adds “Nothing I have read explains how a plant with such minute seeds can apparently jump so dramatically from place to place. There is something almost spooky about it.” Learn more about the Ghost Orchid here.

Orchids in the Park 2016

Posted July 25th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Orchids in the Park always bring incredible orchids to Golden Gate Park. This past weekend’s event featured both modern hybrids and spectacular, unusual species. Enjoy the photos from this dazzling show.

Myrmecophila exaltata, aka Schomburgkia exaltata, orchid species flower with wavy petals, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDracula iricolor, orchid species flower, Pleurothallid, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Possibly Phragmipedium besseae, Phrag, Lady Slipper flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaEncyclia mariae, aka Euchile mariae, orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum, Lady Slipper flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

If this blog sometimes sound like a broken record about the endless diversity of the orchid family, these photos illustrate why. Even veteran orchid growers find surprising shapes and brilliant new color combinations at Orchids in the Park. The dozen examples shown here are only a drop in the bucket of this variety. I’m still sorting through our photos, and I’ll be featuring more of these beauties. Check back soon for additional pictures from this great weekend in Golden Gate Park.

Cattleya Sagarik Wax 'NN', orchid hybrid flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMiltonia Yellow Passion, orchid hybrid flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCalanthe, orchid flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Doritis champorensis var alba, Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis, Phal flower, miniature orchid, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaHolcoglossum kimballianum, orchid species flower, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaHarlequin Phalaenopsis hybrid, Moth Orchid, Phal flower, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Don’t Miss Orchids in the Park This Weekend

Posted July 21st, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Maxillaria fractiflexa, orchid species flower with curved petals, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaCleisocentron gokusingii, miniature orchid species with blue flowers, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium aloifolium var simulans, orchid species flower, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, California

Don’t miss Orchids in the Park this weekend! San Francisco’s annual summer orchid show takes place in the County Fair Building at 9th Avenue & Lincoln Way, near the entrance to Strybing Arboretum. These photos from recent years hint at the botanical wonders to expect at this weekend’s event. Besides orchid displays, there will also be vendors, orchid demos, a raffle, and a silent auction. Vendors are always happy to help Bay Area locals find orchid varieties suited for our many microclimates. See you there!

Pleurothallis gargantua, orchid species flower, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaScaphosepalum gibberosum 'Vistamont', miniature orchid species flower, weird flower, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum orthoglossum, orchid species flwoer, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, California

Close up of Phrag flower lip, possibly Phragmipedium besseae, Lady Slipper, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium cuthbertsonii, miniature orchid species flowers, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda flower, Orchids in the Park 2014, San Francisco, California

Orchid Cactus

Posted July 19th, 2016 by Marc Cohen
Categories: General Gardening, Photos

Don’t be confused by the name — an Orchid Cactus isn’t an orchid, but it does have amazing flowers. Orchid Cacti are tropical succulents with big, vivid blooms that earn an orchid comparison. Also known as epiphyllums, epicacti, or just epis, there are many varieties in a range of brilliant colors, including yellows, pinks, reds, oranges, and white. Their jaw-dropping flowers can be an incredible 10 inches (25 cm) or more.

Side view of red Orchid Cactus flower, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaPink Orchid Cactus flower, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaPink Orchid Cactus flower, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Close up of red Orchid Cactus flower, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaSmall flower bud growing on red Orchid Cactus, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaFlower buds growing on red Orchid Cactus, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in San Francisco, California

Orchid Cacti are native to tropical jungles in Central and South America. They’re larger relatives of popular houseplants like Christmas Cactus. Instead of leaves, they have wide, flat, segmented stems. Growing as air plants like orchids do, they live attached to tree branches without harming the trees. New growth on Orchid Cacti may have small thorns or spines, but these usually disappear as they age. The photos below, showing large Orchid Cacti covering walls and palm tree trunks, were all taken in Hawaii. All the flower photos were taken in San Francisco and Pacifica.

Orchid Cactus, Epiphyllum, large plant growing over a wall on the Big Island of HawaiiOrchid Cactus, Epiphyllum, growing as an air plant on a branch, Koko Crater Botanicl Garden, Oahu, HawaiiOrchid Cactus, enormous Epiphyllum growing up palm trunk, Naalehu, Big Island, Hawaii

Close up of red Orchid Cactus flower, Epiphyllum, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaOrchid Cactus, Epiphyllum growing over a wall, Naalehu, Big Island, HawaiiLarge flowers of an Epiphyllum relative, growing outdoors in Pacifica, California

As epiphytes, Orchid Cacti are good for hanging baskets. They bloom best when kept in small pots with rich potting soil. Give them shade with some filtered sun, and regular water in spring and summer. Keep them drier over winter. They do need cool temps in winter, but always keep them above freezing. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, they grow well outdoors. It’s easy to start new plants from stem cuttings. Cut a segment at least 8 inches (20 cm) long. Let the cut end dry for a few days before potting up.

Other closely related cactus species with large flowers are sometimes lumped under the name Orchid Cacti. These include the Hylocereus genus, which grows beautiful and tasty Dragon Fruit. For more info about Orchid Cacti, check Plant Care Today and WikiHow.