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A lion tooth orchid

January 6, 2012

Bulbophyllum lobbii (syn. B. siamensis, Orchidaceae) is currently in blossom, one of Dokmai Garden’s 200 native orchid species. It is found in a belt from India to Indonesia in evergreen forests at altitudes higher than Chiang Mai. In a cultivation it is therefore essential with watering, although too much in the dry season may cause a rot. It is one of the larger Bulbophyllum flowers, quite ornamental with its sharp stripes and curved side sepals.

Here the bright yellow pollinia have been exposed, and the lid covering them is folded back. The holes to fit the pollinia look like eyes. The distance between the side petals is 6 cm. A very interesting feature is the nodding lip. The pseudobulb is large with one long (25 cm), broad leaf.

The bud looks like a lion tooth, maybe that is why many Bulbophyllum have the Thai name ‘singto’ (lion)? The length is 22 mm.

Seen from the side the flower displays its intricate three-dimensional morphology. Being a wild species, this morphology was not selected by man to amuse our eyes, but is a result of natural selection attracting special insects. The purpose of the flower is pollination, fruit formation, seed production and ultimately reproduction/survival.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell, writing while listening to a live concert of an Oriental magpie robin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 15, 2012 6:45 PM

    Really cool… I can see why it is called a lion-tooth now!

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