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A beauty at a second look

May 15, 2011

The small flowers of Callostylis rigida look quite modest, and when taking the picture below I was balancing on a ladder, more focused on safety than the object itself. Back at the computer I realized how sweet this flower is, tastefully decorated with a palette worthy an autumn fashion show.

Her shyness resides up in trees in Southeast Asia, but unfortunately there is a great risk she would be killed by loggers or taken prisoner by orchid thieves. If you wish to preserve her charm, do like Mr Bill Peake in Chiang Mai, make a donation to the Orchid Ark!

Flowers of the genus Eria are often united by a hairy appearance (‘erion’ means ‘wool’ in Greek) and an inflorescence arising from a cavity in the stem. Recent molecular studies have indicated members of Eria do not share one ancestor (they are ‘polyphyletic’), and genera such as Callostylis described 180 years ago have been resurrected. According to Kew Garden’s Plant List Eria discolor should be treated as Callostylis rigida. This native Callostylis rigida is currently in blossom at Dokmai Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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