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The necklace orchid is in blossom

July 13, 2011

Upon my return from Sweden I went through the Orchid Ark collection and realized that ten species are currently in blossom (Dendrobium ellipsophyllum, D. pachyglossum, D. parthenium, D. spatella, Eria acervata (HJ 90 and HJ 95), Grosourdya appendiculata, Luisia thailandica, Ornithochilus difformis, Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi, Pholidota imbricata and Thecostele alata).

One peculiar orchid is the ‘necklace orchid’ (Pholidota imbricata, Orchidaceae). It is also known as the ‘rattlesnake orchid’ and the ‘overlapping shingle pholidota’. When I first saw its young inflorescence I thought of the tail of the pangolin, so another English name could be ‘pangolin tail’. The species name ‘imbricata’ means shingled and indeed the papery floral bracts covering the flowers look like scales, especially when young. The scales are persistent and a characteristic for making an ID also off the flowering season.

This orchid occurs from India and the Himalayas all the way to Queensland in Australia, and is therefore native also to Thailand. It may grow on rocks or trees and has pseudobulbs like som many other orchids. It is not considered endangered due to its wide distribution, and so you may see it when visiting some of our nearby Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai monsoon forests.

Blossom at the top of the ‘necklace orchid’ inflorescence.

The pangolin tail – 66 buds on each side!

Text and Photo: Eric Danell

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