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The pomelo orchid

September 1, 2011

First of September! If we look back on August, we measured 290 mm of precipitation for the entire month (until 19.30 on August 31), and we had 17 rainy days and 14 days with overcast or sun. One night I did not empty the rain meter and so it was full at 06.30, meaning we had minimum 290 mm of rain in August. This is more rain than the average August compared with the Chiang Mai Airport’s data. The prognosis for September is equal or more amounts of rain. As to this blog Dokmai Dogma, August was the busiest month (over 4700 visits) since we launched the blog in March 2010. Yesterday Dokmai Garden had its first visitor from Indonesia, a charming lady of Chinese origin and her Malaysian daughter. Both were devoted plant and animal lovers and did not mind the short rain, and so we had a delightful stroll and discussion in the garden.

Now, to the orchid Robiquetia succisa (Orchidaceae), which is a part of the Orchid Ark hosted by Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand:

It is a small native orchid which I have frequently found in the crowns of pomelos (Citrus maxima, Rutaceae) in orchards surrounded by evergreen forests. I therefore propose the English name pomelo orchid. The flowers are yellow with characteristic red streaks on the lip. The buds are very typical and resemble chicken clubs. According to my experience it will grow well if planted in a pot hanging high up in a moist nursery, but it will die if soaked with water and kept somewhere with poor air circulation, and it will die if it gets too dry. Since it is found in moist orchards it is not an endangered orchid.

A peculiar observation, and I do not know how common it is, is that the leaf axis might become the home of black ants. Ants are usually very good at protecting plants against pests, and our pomelo orchid does not seem harmed by these guests.

Quite adorable, with yellow monkey ears and buds looking like chicken clubs.

Myrmecophily or coincidence?

A close-up picture of the inhabitants.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Shim permalink
    September 2, 2011 5:32 AM

    Thanks Eric for all these short write-up. They are wonderful to read.

    • September 2, 2011 9:15 AM

      Thanks Martin!

      Ketsanee said we have an invitation to Borneo – thank you so much.

      Eric

  2. Martin permalink
    September 6, 2011 9:54 PM

    Hi Eric,

    Yes . Borneo is waiting !:)

    Martin

  3. Hak Wong permalink
    September 13, 2011 6:30 AM

    These ants will set up house and lure or carry mealy bugs and scale insects to your orchids and pomelos! They will tend them like live stocks and protect them from predators, so they can drink the sticky, honey like secretions. BEWARE!!

    • September 13, 2011 11:09 AM

      Dear Hak Wong,

      Thank you for your warning! Sometimes I am split between fascination of a new phenomenon and the care for the plants. In this case I need to care for the plants.

      Cheers, Eric

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