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Visit to Chiang Rai II: Want to buy this orchid? Bring a tractor!

July 16, 2011

Together with Bruce Hugman I visited a  Chiang Rai nursery where we saw a huge specimen of Grammatophyllum speciosum (Orchidaceae), the world’s heaviest orchid.

This specimen was ten years old and the owner asked 35000 Baht for it.

The ‘elephant orchid’ is native to riverine and swampy forests of Thailand and surrounding countries, and to the rainforests of Indonesia and New Guinea. Many people claim it is now extinct in the wild in Thailand, so we ask our readers to share information on this issue.

It may grow in a tree as an epiphytic orchid, or in a swamp or on a rock. In a garden, keep it in a large pot with coconut husks. Do not forget to water it! Thanks to the many donations to the Orchid Ark, Dokmai Garden displays a five-year-old to our vitors .

To celebrate a successful day, Bruce and I went to the Da Vinci restaurant near the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar. We were served a most delicious meal by the Dutch owner Hans Verschuur. Hans has lived in Chiang Rai for 16 years, and has successfully built up a farm, two restaurants and a delicatessen. In fact, Bruce had treated me with Hans’ divine duck pâté for two pic-nics previously. An upcoming project is the introduction of sheep and subsequent cheese-making, so food-lovers of northern Thailand should keep monitoring the menu of Da Vinci.

We hope to make an excursion to Hans’ farm in the future, as he has reported Thai parrots and monitor lizards. Such wildlife is only possible through fencing big pieces of land, since illegal hunters or their dogs otherwise will kill everything.

Text and Photo: Eric Danell

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