Saturday, May 2, 2020

Phragmipedium hirtzii Dodson 1988


I brought this plant some years ago.  It was an import from Ecuador.  When I brought it, the plant had only two or three fans of leaves.  I cultivate it on a semi hydro regime.   The plant surprised me by surviving the climatic chaos that followed the destruction of the canopy of the forest that surrounds my house by hurricane Maria.   A lot of my other orchid plants were not able to deal with the wild swings in humidity, rainfall and temperature in the months following the hurricane.  I wondered why it had not bloomed.  So I did what I always do with plants that don't bloom for any obvious reason, I carefully moved it so that it got more sun for a longer period of time.  I also gave it fertilizer with more nitrogen to promote bigger, more vigorous growht.  That did the trick and it bloomed in April 2020.  This is its first flower.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dendrobium Mentor (polyanthum x anosmum) a primary hibrid first made in 1893






Dendrobium Mentor is a very old cross which was registered in 1893 by Veitch.  Originally it was described as a cross between Dendrobium anosmum and Dendrobium primulinum.   The plant I have is from a recent crossing.  Both species are highly variable with many varieties.   What used to be known as Dendrobium primulinum was lumped in the species concept of Dendrobium polyanthum, together with Dendrobium cretaceum (which was sometimes called Dendrobium primulinum var. alba) and other variations.   When one looks at Dendrobium primulinum var. De Leon and Den. Primulinum var. Laos, they hardly look alike, but the key feature is their huge round lips.  Technically speaking the peduncle of the flower is clavate shaped in primulinum, but this feature is too obscure for most people.   Dendrobium anosmum has too many forms and varieties to mention but perhaps only two or three have been scientifically described, var. dearei is one and var. huttoni is another.  

Given all that variability I was very curious how the flowers would look.  The plant grew in a way that is more similar to the primulinum parent than to the anosmum parent.   It produced two canes.  One of the canes produced flowers with a lip that is reminiscent, although much reduced, of the lip of primulinum, the other cane produced flowers with a shape that favored anosmum.  The flowers that resembled primulinum had a sweet fragrance with a distinct “smokey” note, the flowers that resembled anosmum barely had any fragrance.  The plant is still young, it is not clear which size it will attain when it is a full adult in two to three years.

Monday, February 24, 2020

A pair of Amazona vittata. the puertorican amazon calling from a tree near their nest


It has been an unusually rainy 24 of February.  Normally this month is one of the driest ones of the year.  But the arrival of a cold front ushered non stop rain and drizzle that has lasted the whole day.  In some parts of the island the rain has set records that had stood since the 1940's.  It has been a rainy and cloudy afternoon.  Every afternoon, I do a round to check the captive breeding pairs.  I do this every day during the breeding season, at a specific time.  The captive parrots become habituated to my presence and are not alarmed when I go by.   Some wild birds have territories inside the aviary and they also become habituated to my presence.   This pair is perching in a tree near to where their nest is located.  You can hear their calls and also the calls of other parrots who are near.  Their calls serve to mark their territory and to warn other birds away.   There was another pair who had a territory close to that of this pair.  The male of that pair died.  In an unusual turn of events, this pair tolerates the female in their territory rather than chasing her away as they do with other birds.  You can see the widowed female arrive after second 18 of the video.  The male is a captive bird that was released a few years back, you can see the antena of his radio transmitter.  The is lacking a few feathers from the top of his head, probably he lost them in a territorial fight.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Acacallis cyanea Lindley 1853


A plant product of a sibling cross.  I saw iit in the collection of a friend who says it grows well for him and blooms frequently.  He grows it in a warm, humid environment.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Bulbophyllum romyi B.Thoms 2015



I saw this plant this orchid yesterday.   I was told a shipment that arrived on the island labeled as Bulb fascinator, turned out to be all Bulbophyllum romyi.  This is one case where I am sure nobody is complaining.  The color of this orchid makes it very hard to get a good photo.  I had to use the phone camera to capture the incredibly dark lip.  When I took photos with my DSRL camera, the flower comes out red, beautiful, but highly unrealistic.  The plant I saw is still young, I was told that when it gets bigger the flower will be even more impressive.