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Eulophia spectabilis

May 15, 2013

A new orchid of the Orchid Ark collection at Dokmai Garden is Eulophia spectabilis (Orchidaceae). It never bloomed while in its pot in the shaded but moist nursery, but released in the dry monsoon woodland in August 2012 it dived like a fish released from its bucket. A vigorous inflorescence without leaves, typical of the Eulophia genus, showed up recently. Identifying this species is not easy since it is highly variable depending on its geographical origin. It can be all red (var. purpurea), all white or white and red. The specimen below has greenish sepals with pink stripes. A characteristic feature of the species is the pink venation of the lip with a white, sometimes yellow spot in the centre, while many other Thai Eulophia have lips with a pink centre. The inflorescence is fleshy and the flowers quite large, up to 3 cm. The pseudobulbs are round.

Although rare, it can be found from the dry lowlands (200 m) to the evergreen highlands (over 2000 meters) in all provinces of Thailand and from India to the Solomon Islands. A molecular study of the many geographical morphotypes may reveal that the scientific name is in fact an umbrella for many more species.

If life on Earth was as popular as sports, the current sports sponsorship industry of 40 billion dollars annually would probably be happy to sponsor research and conservation of wild orchids. One cent to biodiversity research and conservation for every soda or beer can would have a dramatic impact on how Earth looks like 1000 years from now. Our actions will affect future generations’ view of us; as egocentric clowns or responsible adults.

Eulophia spectabilis.72This form of Eulophia spectabilis is illustrated in Hooker’s book (1895) “A Century of Indian Orchids” and is also very similar to that illustrated in “Wild Orchids of Peninsular Malaysia” by Ong et al. (2011). Other forms are illustrated in “Thai Native Orchids 2” by Nannakorn & Watthana (2008) and “Wild orchids of Thailand” by Vaddhanaphuti  (2005).

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

(Precipitation report: on the 9th of May we received 10 mm of rain.)

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