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New species of orchids and birds

February 9, 2013

An orchid donated to the Orchid Ark a long time ago is flowering right now: Coelogyne viscosa. One of our orchid scouts says it grows for sure on calcareous rock in Chiang Dao, but is also reported as an epiphyte in evergreen forests of Southeast Asia. It thrives at Dokmai Garden in spite of a fairly dry treatment, in fact that may have triggered its blossom:

Coelogyne viscosa flower.72

I have previously treated other native white Coelogyne: C. flaccida and C. trinervis. A characteristic of this species is the narrow, almost grass-like leaves, which easily separates it from many other Thai Coelogyne orchids. Field reports are welcome.

When you handle the orchid flower you notice the sepals are indeed sticky, hence the name ‘viscosa’. An English name could simply be ‘sticky orchid’. The fragrance is weak and floral, and the pollinator is likely to be nocturnal.  When the rainy season is here we shall transfer a cutting to an evergreen tree. An interesting observation is that a young raintree (Samanea saman, Fabaceae) seems unsuitable as an orchid substrate. I think the incredibly fast growth makes it shed the orchids like in flaking Lagerstroemia. The orchid roots do not get a firm grip. Cracked bark of slow-growing tree species in Dipterocarpaceae are the best for orchids in deciduous forests, while mango is excellent for orchids from evergreen environments. Please let me know if anyone has positive experience from establishing orchids in raintrees.

As to birds, two Swedish ornithologists reported Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and I saw it for a split second myself. That brings our bird-list to 97 species, of which seven are raptors. The Eurasian kestrel is a red falcon spending its winter vacation here in the Chiang Mai valley. Yesterday, Finnish guests and I saw three crested serpent eagles (Spilornis cheela) and one shikra hawk (Accipiter badius) ascending together. Previously I have remarked I have not seen crested serpent eagles in a long while, but they are apparently back again. To see raptors in the cool season, you need to look out for them between 09.30 and 10 a.m. At that time it is hot enough for thermic winds to bring them high up after which they disappear far away. They are also easier to identify when they are still near the ground. Black eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) usually wakes up hungry, and being a tree-top hunter you may see him at day-break just after 06.30.

The days are getting hotter now, indicating we are near the end of the cool season. My private definition is day temperatures above 33°C and night temperatures above 20°C – nice!

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2013 3:36 AM

    Eric, I had no problem establishing orchids in the rain tree at my place in Puna, Hawaii. They were common types, but I’m not an orchid guy and I’m not sure of the Latin names. I recall that at least one was a Phalaenopsis, and googling the common name “popcorn orchid,” I found Oncidium sphacelatum, which thrived on the rain tree (called monkey pod in Hawaii). A Piper nigrum became strongly established on this substrate as well. Perhaps the difference is the climate; annual rainfall in my part of Puna was more than 100 inches (254 cm), relatively evenly distributed throughout the year.

    • February 9, 2013 7:45 AM

      Very interesting! Yes, if six months of orchid dormancy here coincides with six months of tree growth due to its deeper roots, then the situation is different.

      Thanks, Eric

  2. February 9, 2013 8:42 AM

    Nice blog!

  3. David Fielder permalink
    February 11, 2013 9:51 AM

    Absolutely stunning Eric!

    I need to get back to Dokmai Gardens, but unfortunately, I don’t think it will be in 2013. – David

    • February 11, 2013 7:44 PM

      Dear David,

      You are welcome anytime. We are investigating your orchid adoption initiative.

      Cheers, Eric

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