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Orchids orchids….

February 23, 2012

The nights and the mornings are warm now – lovely! Yesterday’s afternoon temperature was 33 °C, and precipitation-wise the prediction for 2012 is a neutral year (not a doomsday La Niña with more flooding). Late February and early March is the early flowering time of the most aristocratic blooms on Earth.

Today I devote the blog to the charming Dendrobium pulchellum (Orchidaceae). ‘Pulchellum’ means ‘beautiful’ in Latin. The name was coined by the former director of the Calcutta Botanical Gardens Roxburgh in 1832.  This orchid is impossible to overlook in the jungles because it has large (7 cm) and simply beautiful flowers. There is no need to do any hybridizations, this is a perfected piece of natural art, as flawless as a Mozart opera. A rival in beauty and perfection is D. albosanguineum, also in blossom at Dokmai Garden now.

D. pulchellum is native from Assam in India to Vietnam, including northern Thailand where you may see it in the jungles around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but only if you are really lucky! Being adapted to a range of habitats, from roasting hot deciduous lowland forests to evergreen forests at high elevation it is a survivor. At Dokmai Garden we grow it in a range of habitats. The first specimen to bloom do so in a dry corner in a longan tree (Dimocarpus longan, Sapindaceae).

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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