Lovely Orchid Lips

Posted April 16th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Photos

Paraphalaenopsis labukensis, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Orchids in the Park 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCyrtochilum macranthum, AKA Oncidium macranthum, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, grown outdoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaDracula vampira 'Walter' x sib, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Orchids in the Park 2013, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Phragmipedium flower, Phrag, Lady Slipper orchid, close up of flower lip, labellum, pouch, Pacific Orchid Expo 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaRhyncholaelia digbyana, AKA Brassavola digbyana, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, fringed flower lip, Pacific Orchid Expo 2018, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum pseudepidendrum, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, green pink and yellow flower, grown indoors in San Francisco, California

Orchids have lovely lips. The lip, or labellum, is one of the defining parts of an orchid flower. This modified petal can be the most elaborate part of the bloom. It may be a landing pad, or even a temporary trap, for pollinating insects. It’s usually at the bottom of the flower, but since orchids like to break rules, it’s sometimes at the top, as in certain varieties of Epidendrum, Encyclia, and Cycnoches.

Cattleya orchid hybrid flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, purple flower with yellow lip, Pacific Orchid Expo 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis orchid hybrid flower, Phal, Moth Orchid, close up of flower lip, labellum, purple flower with yellow lip, University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UKCoelogyne orchid flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Orchids in the Park 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Stanhopea orchid flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Glasshouse, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, UKCycnoches barthiorum, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, grown indoors in San Francisco, CaliforniaTrichopilia suavis, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

It’s not possible to illustrate the ridiculous diversity of orchid lips with only 15 photos, but I’ve tried to capture a wide range. Some not included here feature striking colors, like Miltoniopsis, or bizarre forms, like Bulbophyllums. All these structures may be fascinating to us, but they’re meant for insect or avian pollinators. Each lip is part of an ingenious lure that’s evolved to attract a specific bug or bird with colors, patterns, shapes, and fragrances. The fact that orchid lips have also drawn in lots of humans has been a happy accident.

Encyclia orchid, close up of flower lip, labellum, striped flower lip, Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco, MexicoPaphiopedilum orchid, Paph, Lady Slipper, close up of flower lip, labellum, pouch, Pacific Orchid Expo 2019, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaHabenaria medusa, orchid species flower, close up of flower lip, labellum, Orchids in the Park 2016, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

The Orchid Paintings of Glasnevin

Posted April 10th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Misc, QuickPost

Even if you can’t visit Ireland to see the remarkable orchid paintings of Glasnevin, you can still enjoy some of them online. Located in Dublin, the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin holds over 2,500 orchid works. Most depict the garden’s own orchids, and were done by two skilled botanical artists, Lydia Shackleton and Alice Jacob. Contact the garden to see more of the collection than is shown in the online exhibition.

Happy 150th Birthday to Golden Gate Park

Posted April 4th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, In the News, Misc, Photos

Bulbophyllum flowers, orchid flowers, unusual flowers, Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaFlower clock and Conservatory of Flowers, palm trees, Victorian glasshouse, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDahlia flower, pom-pom dahlia, purple and white flower, Dahlia Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii, Hybrid monkey's hand tree, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPrickly Pear cactus with lots of fruit, Opuntia, Succulent Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaBromeliad in bloom, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
Happy birthday, Golden Gate Park! It’s one of the most famous parks in the world, and it’s turning 150 years old. Formerly barren sand dunes, it’s now full of plants, animals, museums, statues, hiking trails, lakes, and meadows. It’s one of our favorite destinations. (Of course, much of it is shut down because of the COVID19 pandemic, so the birthday celebrations have turned virtual.) The annual Pacific Orchid Expo and Orchids in the Park events occur at the Hall of Flowers in Strybing Arboretum, all within the park. There are orchids to be found year-round in the wondrous Conservatory of Flowers, and also in the rainforest exhibit at the esteemed California Academy of Sciences. They’re all part of 1,017 green acres (412 hectares) that stretch from the middle of San Francisco to the waves of the Pacific.

Blue Morpho Butterfly, rainforest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaStrawberry poison dart-frog, Oophaga pumilio, bright red and blue frog, blue jeans color morph, rainforest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMurphy Windmill, San Francisco Designated Landmark, western edge of Golden Gate Park near the ocean, San Francisco, California

Leucospermum Scarlet Ribbon, pincushion flower, large flower, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaRed-shouldered Hawk bathing in pond, Buteo lineatus, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaTree Fern Dell, multiple tree ferns, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

There’s so much to the park than it’s only possible to list big highlights, like the de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Garden, antique carousel, Stow Lake paddleboats, Buffalo Paddock, Rose Garden, Fuchsia Dell, Dahlia Garden, Redwood Grove, AIDS Memorial Grove, and so much more. Whether it’s poison-dart frogs or Dutch windmills, the park has them. (Don’t worry, the poison-dart frogs live indoors at the California Academy of Sciences rainforest exhibit.)

Pond surrounded by trees and other plants, red Japanese maple, Japanese stone lanterns, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaTidy Tips, Layia platyglossa, yellow and white flowers, California native species, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaAloe polyphylla, Spiral Aloe, Succulent Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Below is a list of my past posts regarding the park. This doesn’t include any of the orchid shows, and I’m sure I’ve accidentally missed some others, but there’s plenty here to enjoy a virtual tour. Also check out this fascinating article by Curbed SF with “150 things you didn’t know about Golden Gate Park for its 150th anniversary.”

April Orchid Events Are Cancelled

Posted April 1st, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Videos

For many years, I’ve done my best each month to assemble listings for orchid events around the world. This month, sadly, I need to say that if there are any shows, auctions, or conferences still happening, you shouldn’t go. Shelter at home to help stop the spread of COVID19. Use the time to care for your plants and connect virtually with other orchid lovers. Visit AboutOrchids.com for pretty pictures and as a break from bad news. I don’t know when we’ll be able to revel in the magic of orchid shows again, but right now the priority is to protect lives. There are already many orchid resources, and people are creating ideas for orchid lovers to connect virtually. For example, there’s a call to make April 4th a “Global Virtual Orchid Show” with the hashtag #GVOS2020. Everybody can post a photo of one of their orchids in bloom across all social media. I’ve also seen the hashtag #VirtualOrchidShow being used.

And for a lovely slice of paradise, enjoy this guided video tour of the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show. Unfortunately, this exhibit had to shut down early, but you can safely immerse yourself in glasshouses full of amazing orchids in the video below.

The Delights of Orchids Indoors

Posted March 29th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Fragrant Orchids, Intermediate Growers, Mini Orchids, Photos, Warm Growers

Mexicoa ghiesbreghtiana, AKA Oncidium ghiesbreghtianum, orchid species flower, bright yellow and reddish-brown flower, fragrant flower, Mexican orchid species, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMexicoa ghiesbreghtiana, AKA Oncidium ghiesbreghtianum, orchid species flower, bright yellow and reddish-brown flower, fragrant flower, Mexican orchid species, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMexicoa ghiesbreghtiana, AKA Oncidium ghiesbreghtianum, orchid species flower, bright yellow and reddish-brown flower, fragrant flower, Mexican orchid species, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

As we continue to shelter at home, it really helps to be surrounded by our indoor orchids. A few of my plants have been putting on great spring shows. The Mexicoa species in the first row of photos above has already been blooming for two months. Now, it’s put out five new spikes of brilliant yellow flowers. They have a great lemony scent.

Maxillaria tenuifolia, Coconut Orchid, orchid species flower, fragrant flower, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMaxillaria tenuifolia, Coconut Orchid, orchid species flower, fragrant flower, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMaxillaria tenuifolia, Coconut Orchid, orchid species flower, fragrant flower, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

The Coconut Orchid, in the row of photos above, smells like coconut cream pie. I’ve had this same plant since 2003. This year, it’s sporting dozens of flowers. It’s a delightfully easy grower and reliable bloomer.

Leptotes pohlitinocoi, orchid species flower, Brazilian orchid, miniature orchid, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLeptotes pohlitinocoi, orchid species flower, Brazilian orchid, miniature orchid, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaLeptotes pohlitinocoi, orchid species flowers, Brazilian orchid, miniature orchid, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

The Leptotes species in the third row of photos is not like the other orchids in this post. It’s a mini, it’s not fragrant, and it needs warmer temps than the rest, which are intermediate growers. I just bought it in bud at the recent Pacific Orchid Expo, and kept it happy enough that it bloomed a couple weeks later.

Brassia orchid, orchid hybrid flowers, Spider Orchid, large flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaBrassia orchid, orchid hybrid flowers, Spider Orchid, large flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaBrassia orchid, orchid hybrid flowers, Spider Orchid, large flowers, grown indoors in Pacifica, California

In the final row of photos, this aptly named Spider Orchid is a prolific bloomer. These big flowers, as tall as 15 inches (38 cm,) have a spicy fragrance. This hybrid was a great buy at a local grocery store a few years ago. It puts out enormous, long-lasting blossoms twice a year. They’re truly a joy.

A Brief History of China’s Wild Cymbidium Trade

Posted March 24th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Conservation, In the News

The IUCN Orchid Specialist Group reports on the history, cultural importance, and trade of China’s Cymbidiums. Recent studies focus on Sichuan Province in southwest China, one of the world’s botanical hotspots. It’s home to many orchids, including Cymbidiums. They’ve been important in Chinese culture for thousands of years, and ornamental varieties have been cultivated for a millenium. They were once so common in Sichuan that their sweet fragrances filled the mountain air. However, over the last few decades, increased harvesting of wild plants has threatened them with extinction. Fortunately, many buyers are turning to orchids grown in greenhouses rather than wild plants. It is hoped that China’s traditional reverence for Cymbidiums will help save these endangered species.

Sheltering at Home for the Spring Equinox

Posted March 19th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Photos

Masdevallia figueroae, orchid species flower, pleurothallid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Sweet Wine 'Latour', orchid hybrid flower, peloric flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum venustum 'Blatant', orchid species flower, Lady Slipper with spots stripes and veined flower pouch, Paph, variegated leaf, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Today is a spring equinox like no other. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have been sheltering at home for several days now as COVID-19 spreads. Dave and I are fine, and our two cats are getting spoiled since we’re home most of the time. Only essential businesses are still open. Roads that are typically jammed with traffic are eerily empty. Despite some over-hyped news stories, most people are following necessary restrictions. It reminds me of when I was here for the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, not only because it’s upended our lives, but also because it’s brought out the best caring instincts in a lot of people.

Phragmipedium schlimii, orchid species flower, Lady Slipper, Phrag, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPleurothallis macrophylla, orchid species flowers, weird flowers, dark purplish-red and orange flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flower, peloric flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

This year, I have little excuse for my usual repotting procrastination. Spring is the best repotting time for most orchids, and I usually manage to get many, but not all, of mine done. Maybe I can also really tackle that persistent scale infestation on some of my indoor plants. For a while, I’ve managed it with mild insecticides, but I’m never been diligent enough to repeat every week to completely eliminate the pests. If you’re looking to fill your time while sheltering at home, check out the American Orchid Society’s tips for March and April orchid care. And enjoy these photos from our recent Pacific Orchid Expo to celebrate the equinox.

Dendrobium Matos, orchid hybrid flowers, yellow orange and red flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpidendrum centropetalum, AKA Oerstedella centradenia, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum Emerald Sea x In-Charm White, orchid hybrid flower, Paph, Lady Slipper, yellow and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

A Big Season for Cymbidium Orchids

Posted March 17th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Fragrant Orchids, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Cymbidium hybrid orchid flower, gold white and deep red flower, flower with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flower, green white and deep red flower, partially open flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flowers, white flowers and buds with water drops, many flowers on a spike, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cymbidium hybrid orchid flowers, pink white yellow and reddish-purple flower, flowers with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium Green Zenith 4N x tracyanum 4N, hybrid orchid flower, gold white and deep red flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flowers, pink white yellow and reddish-purple flowers, flowers with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

The California coast is already a beautiful place, and Cymbidium orchids make it even better. Since we moved to Pacifica several years ago, we’ve acquired more of them. Dave occasionally brings a nice one home from the grocery store. Usually they bloom in different seasons, but this year they all decided to flower over the winter. For a little while, I had 10 plants in bloom at once.

Cymbidium hybrid orchid flower, yellow and white flower with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flower, white flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flower, pink white yellow and reddish-purple flower, flower with water drops, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cymbidium hybrid orchid flower, green white and deep red flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flower, gold white and deep red flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium hybrid orchid flower, yellow and white flower, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Cymbidiums are great outdoor orchids for the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of our neighbors keep them in their gardens. Some hybrids may bloom more than once annually. Warmer growing varieties are available for those who don’t enjoy our cool nighttime temps, which they need to flower.

The final row of photos below features my favorite new Cymbidium. This is Cymbidium tracyanum, a species native to mountains in China, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. I received divisions from a friend last year when I helped her repot a large, old plant. I didn’t expect it to bloom so soon, but it’s gracing us with three spikes full of spectacular, fragrant, 5-inch (12.7 cm) wide flowers. It’s a superb harbinger of spring.

Cymbidium tracyanum, orchid species flower, purplish-red white and yellow flower with spots and stripes, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium tracyanum, orchid species flowers, purplish-red white and yellow flowers with spots and stripes, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaCymbidium tracyanum, orchid species flowers, purplish-red white and yellow flowers with spots and stripes, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

New Zealand’s Ghost Orchid Hunter

Posted March 14th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Mini Orchids

New Zealand’s tiny Ghost Orchid isn’t easy to find. (Even though it shares a common name, it’s different from Florida’s famous Ghost Orchid of The Orchid Thief fame.) The New Zealand species is the only member of the Corybas genus that has stopped using photosynthesis. Instead, it lives off nutrients from fungi. Without chlorophyll, it’s not green, but brown. Botanist Carlos Lehnebach spent ten years searching before he found one. Now that he’s spotted it near Wellington, he’s hoping to understand the genetic changes which let it stop harnessing the sun’s energy. After all this time, Lehnebach still isn’t sure how rare it is. “It’s so difficult to find, it could be that the hills where I’ve been looking are full of it.”

More Photos from Pacific Orchid Expo 2020

Posted March 8th, 2020 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Maxillaria fucata 'Stony Point', orchid species flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhragmipedium Peruflora's Spirit, orchid hybrid flower, Phrag, Lady Slipper, red and yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaLaelia Canariensis 'Golden Glow', orchid hybrid flower, yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Cattleya coccinea, orchid species flowers on plant in wooden basket with red second place ribbon, orangish red flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Virginia Reyes Carreon 'Woodside', orchid hybrid flowers, green red and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium orchid hybrid flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s annual Pacific Orchid Expo is full of botanical riches. There are plenty of novel hybrids, extraordinary species, and awards for the best among them. It’s the cream of the crop.

Vandachostylis Bibelot, orchid hybrid flower, blue and white flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPleurothallis cyanea, orchid species flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium cuthbertsonii, orchid species flowers, pink and orange flowers, miniature orchid, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Laeliocattleya Moonlight Madness 'Temptress', orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis hybrid flower, Phal, Moth Orchid, peloric flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaCattleya Sacramento Rose, orchid hybrid flowers, purple flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Add in more colors than any rainbow, and some rich perfumes, and it’s easy to see why orchid lovers are so hooked. It’s a shame that the Pacific Orchid Expo only comes around once a year.

Miltoniopsis Maui Fusion 'Pink Spider' x Harold Ripley 'Hansen', Pansy Orchid hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaPaphiopedilum Hawaiian Volcano 'Dolcetto', Paph, Lady Slipper hybrid flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia Tiger Kiss 'Zaia', orchid hybrid flower, pleurothallid, orange and red flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2020, Hall of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California