Porpax is a peculiar Orchid genus with at least 13 species in the world, of which at least seven occur in Thailand.
Porpax was the Roman word for a shield handle, used by Lindley when he described this orchid genus in Latin in 1845. The leaves may look like shields.
An eight species, P. fibuliformis (Orchidaceae), has recently been reported by Hendrik Jacobs in Chiang Rai. The Orchid Ark’s specimen seems to be P. fibuliformis based on the smooth and less pubescent leaves ‘Folia…margine minute ciliolata’. The very similar P. ustulata has longer hairs on the leaf margin and the leaf surface is not smooth (‘Folia…ciliata et hinc asperulo-papillosa’). P. fibuliformis has reticulated flat pseudobulbs often hidden by the leaves, which grow in pairs in between which the dark red flowers emerge. Fibuliformis is Latin for ‘buckle-shaped’. Bring your macro lens next time you come to Dokmai Garden!
Due to the restricted distribution in the world (northern Thailand and the mountains in the surrounding countries) and the rapid destruction of evergreen forests, this species may become extinct. Your support to the Orchid Ark is greatly appreciated.
Text and Photo: Eric Danell