The shy blue vanda
The shy blue vanda (Vanda coerulescens, Orchidaceae) is blooming at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai right now, along with a range of other orchid species. This is peak season for native orchid blossom!
This orchid is a native Thai species, found in the north only, but also in southern China, Burma and India. It is even reported from the Doi Suthep mountain hovering above Chiang Mai, but since it is listed as endangered it is possible it is now extinct from our populated area. Confidential field reports to the Orchid Ark are most welcome!
It is often confused with Vanda lilacina, a species with a much broader geographical range. The confusion is due to the many similar colour varieties, some of which are likely to be garden cultivars. The petals and sepals in V. coerulescens are very light bluish, while white in V. lilacina, although these are not stable characters. A more reliable characteristic is the shape of the spur; long and slender in V. coerulescens, short and compact in V. lilacina.
Being a native of evergreen forests we successfully grow V. coerulescens in the shade of an evergreen mango tree, facing east. We have the largest inflorescence ever, and that without a drop of NPK fertilizer. We think that is due to abundant bird and reptile excrements dissolved in dew and rain water, which in turn is due to absence of pesticides.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell
(Precipitation report: On March 4th we received 5 mm of rain. The landscape is unusually green and beautiful, with early leaf formation in many trees and loads of various blossom. This morning was cold, 17.5°C).