Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grammatophyllum Tiger Paw, a hybrid of Gramm. elegans and Gramm. fenzlianum

The flower of my plant is unusually full, until recently
 most Tiger Paw sold had spindly flower segments
An inflorescence showing the flower arrangement

A photo using full sunglight, the upper sepal has been reflexed from its natural position

The red toucan key chain serves to give a scale to these inflorescences

The plant stayed in this pot until it was ready to bloom

The mature plant in its new plastic pot.  Note that a relatively small plant is producing three inflorescences

I brought my plant of Grammatophyllum Tiger Paw at a show in Ponce about ten years ago.  The plant was quite tiny with finger sized pseudobulbs but I decide to take a chance on it.  The orchid was planted in a tall plastic pot made from a soda pot bottle.  This plant grew well but relatively slow, the pseudobulbs grew in size but not too much from year to year.  Because it was so small when I purchased it the plant took about five years to reach blooming size, however it has never stopped blooming since that date.  

I find this hybrid is more forgiving of lapses in its care than the elegans parent.  However as in all the Grammatophyllums I have, blooming is mostly determined by how well the plant was cared for when the pseudobulbs were growing.  When I have helped the plant produce large fat pseudobulbs then blooming is all but assured, spindly and skinny pseudobulbs don’t bloom.  My Tiger Paw blooms more reliably than my elegans.

One curious thing my plant has is that its root basket is much smaller than what one would expect given its parents both of which can produce sizeable root masses.  The flowers of my Gramm. Tiger Paw are quite round, this used to be a rare thing in the Tiger Paw hybrids that were available locally but lately plants with nice round flowers are becoming more common. 

An unexpected thing is tha the inflorescences of my plant are smaller that those of either parent that I have seen locally, maybe it's parents were selected from plants with shorter inflorescences.  Its cultural needs are exactly like those of elegans.  This orchid seems much more vulnerable to snail and slug damage in its pseudobulbs than elegans and I have found holes eaten in their pseudobulbs made by snails, something that I have never seen either on elegans or scriptum.

Enormous numbers of this plant, of several varieties of scriptum, and other related Grammatophyllums have been put for sale in the last few years at most orchid shows I have attended in the island.  But apparently their survival locally is poor.  My suspicion is that they are killed when people try to confine their massive root systems to unventilated pots producing inevitable root loss and the death of the plant.

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