Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dendrobium spectabile (Blume) Miq. 1859, an orchid with contorted, otherworldly flowers

The flowers of Dendrobium spectabile have a strange otherworld appareance due to their highly contorted floral parts.  The orientation and twisting of the florarl parts can vary wildly even in the same inflorescences.   The color of the flowers can vary from plant to plant, some are more yellow and some are more purple.  The flowers in the inflorescence can look down, up or sidewise.  In my own plant the flowers, no matter the direction in which their petals are twisted, have their lips pointing downwards, this means that many flowers have sidewise oriented lips.  The texture of the flowers can also vary, my own plant has flowers moderately good substance but some clones that I have seen in exhibitions have flowers which have a leathery texture.

The inflorescences can also vary in the way they show the flowers.  In my plant the flowers are separated by enough space that you can appreciate each one individually.  But some plants I have seen in exhibitions have their flowers all bunched in a ball like inflorescence in which all the flowers are crowded together with their floral parts overlaping each other in an untidy mass.

This plant is well worth growing but it seems individual plants vary in their frequency of blooming.  Some seem to be shy blooming, while others, like my plant, bloom like clockwork each year and sometimes two times in a season.  My only complaint is that the sideshoots my plant has produced have never kept  growing, so after 9 years in my garden my plant still has only a single growing point.

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