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Luisia thailandica

April 29, 2011

Thanks to the recently launched Orchid Ark friends and neighbours bring odd orchids from their private collections. The other day we received a Luisia, a peculiar orchid with a stiff and brown lip. There are 14 species of Luisia in Thailand. We believe the species below is Luisia thailandica due to the lip’s lack of sidelobes as seen in the picture below. The cylindrical (terete) leaves indicate a life in strong sunshine, and it seems adapted to the deciduous dipterocarp forests so commonly found around Chiang Mai. However, maybe once common, today you rarely see this orchid. Today’s dipterocarp forests are naked. The species was described as new to science in 1971 by Gunnar Seidenfaden, and is restricted to Southeast Asia.

Once this orchid has grown larger we shall move it out to the garden. We just changed shade cloths in one nursery and we have identified many sites at Dokmai Garden suitable for various groups of orchids. It is important closely related species are kept apart, so that they do not accidentally hybridise, like when the first strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) accidentally appeared in a botanical garden.

Eric Danell

Luisia thailandica (Orchidaceae). The flower could be a figure from Tim Burton’s ‘The Nighmare Before Christmas’; a skeleton with sad yellow eyes (the column) using her short fat arms to hold a gloomy brown 19th century dress (the lip).

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