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The toothbrush orchid

February 21, 2012

In yesterday’s blog I described the snapdragon tree. In this naked tree where the tropical sun can hit without mercy you may find dry-loving epiphytic orchids. One is Dendrobium secundum (Orchidaceae) which will open its buds any day. Due to the shape of the flowering panicle it is sometimes called the ‘toothbrush orchid’, a descriptive name, especially for the popular white clone. This orchid species is native to Chiang Mai and I have seen it growing wild in naked Shorea roxburghii (Dipterocarpaceae) trees on the crispy dry mountain crests in the nearby Opkhan national park. This habitat is very dry, and so this is a perfect choice for any newcomer to gardening in Chiang Mai. Management method: mount in full sun and do not interfere (no watering or nutrients). It can be bought from CITES certified dealers downtown. Stay away from roadside vendors who steal them in the forests.

The wild form is more appealing to me, a blotch of pink on seemingly dead (leafless) pseudobulbs in a seemingly dead (leafless) tree. Feels like spring!

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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