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Lindley’s downy orchid

December 4, 2011

Lindley’s downy orchid (Bulbophyllum lindleyanum, Orchidaceae) is neat. It has distinct bulb-shaped pseudobulbs with one leaf each. The white flowers are triangular, striped and downy (tomentose), resembling a hatchling.They are only 4 mm across, but simply enchanting!

This epiphytic orchid grows in trees in evergreen forests of India, Burma and Thailand. The Thai name is ‘Singto Lindley’, meaning ‘Lindley’s Lion’. Thai scientists use the name ‘singto’ for the orchid genus Bulbophyllum, which comprises over 2000 species (the most species-rich orchid genus) found in all tropical regions on Earth. The genus ‘Bulbophyllum‘ was coined by the French botanist Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars in 1822. Being an aristocrat he was imprisoned after the French revolution and then in 1792 he was exiled to Madagascar and nearby Réunion. Being a gentleman he kept exploring science and upon his return to France in 1802 he brought his extensive herbarium which is still kept in Paris and at Kew Gardens in Richmond/London.

Who was John Lindley? He was a British gentleman (1799-1865) and botanist. In his time he was considered the authority on orchids, spending ten years writing his opus ‘The Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants’ published in 1835.

Lindley’s downy orchid is now in blossom at Dokmai Garden in northern Thailand.

The pseudobulbs (nutrient storing organs) and the rhizome (stem) are attached to a piece of pine bark.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2011 3:08 AM

    Thanks for the nice, historical writeup. I enjoy things like that, which give me some information on which to base further exploration.

    • December 4, 2011 8:01 AM

      Thanks – yes an explanation of a scientific name and some information on the people behind usually makes the name stick and stimulates a more widespread botanical knowledge.

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