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The first monsoon woodland orchid in blossom!

March 4, 2013

Last year we transferred most terrestrial orchids from the nursery to the Dokmai Garden monsoon woodland. It is composed of mixed dipterocarp-deciduous trees and scattered evergreen mango and longan trees. Unfortunately the rainy season of 2012 was mostly dry so I have been wondering how the orchids have been doing. The monsoon woodland has no sprinklers to make sure it follows the natural seasons. This management has allowed the sweet little white orchid Geodorum recurvum (Orchidaceae) to open its flowers, and more specimens emerge!

Geodorum recurvum2The Geodorum recurvum orchid emerges from the leaf litter. We thank Corien and Folbert Bronsema for this orchid donation which is a part of the Orchid Ark.

This orchid was first described by ‘the father of Indian botany’ William Roxburgh in 1795. ‘Recurvum’ alludes to the elegantly bent inflorescence. The genus Geodorum, coined by the British botanist George Jackson in 1811, would be Latinized Greek meaning ‘gift from the ground’ (geo doron). There are 12 species in the world of which seven are found in Thailand. For an overview of the Thai terrestrial orchid genera, see my key published in 2011.

Geodorum recurvum.March4.2013.72Geodorum recurvum is native to India, Bhutan, southern China, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The literature report it from a range of habitats; from moist evergreen hill forests to dry savannahs. I have seen it here and there in dry mixed deciduous forests in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. More field reports are most welcome!

A related species, Geodorum densiflorum, has been used as food by Australian aboriginals. That species is called ‘shepherd’s crook’ by white Australians. We need an English name for the Asian G. recurvum. The Thai names ‘wan chung nang’ and ‘wan nang tam’ would approximately mean ‘root of the followsome lady’. Ketsanee thinks the rhizome has medicinal properties and many such plants are over-collected in the wild. How about ‘jungle vamp’, alluding to its beauty and to the bent finger asking you to come along?

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

(Precipitation report: yesterday on March 3rd we received 8 mm of rain. The Climate Prediction Centre still forecasts a neutral season, i.e. not too rainy, not too dry. Good news!).

(Election report: I asked Voranai Vanijaka at Bangkok Post why there is an election of governor for Bangkok while the Chiang Mai governor is simply appointed by the Bangkok government? He replied that Bangkok is the site of the rulers, while the provinces are annexed or conquered territories. The governors of these colonies are appointed by the central government like in the administration of the Roman Empire.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2013 10:54 PM

    the first flowers (of any species) each season are always cause for a smile. It feels good to know there’s order in nature, esp when the rest of the world is chaotic.
    Beautiful little orchids, these. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing such good info!

  2. David Fielder permalink
    March 5, 2013 12:23 AM

    Wonderful Picture Eric!

    We still have to wait another 10 weeks before we see our first orchids of the year!

    With best wishes – David

  3. tomo permalink
    March 13, 2013 9:50 PM

    lovely wild orchid, and great photos. so amazing how resilient them orchids are. it’s not all about moisture apparently. i don’t see our desert mountain orchids these days anymore…. drought, yes, but there’s a lot more to it… congratulations eric.

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