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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Coelogyne rochussenii de Vriese 1854. Beautiful and with a powerful fragrance

I brought this plant about five years ago.   Initially it didn’t do well.  For reasons that I could not decipher the new growths kept dying from rot.  This is a very unusual thing to happen to a Coelogyne in my garden.   None of the other Coelogynes I grow, Burfordiense, mayeriana, parishii and an unknown one similar to schielleriana, has ever lost a new growth from black rot.   After the plant had initiated, and lost several new growths I decided that it was just not doing well in my growing area in the mountains of Puerto Rico.  I took the plant to my other growing area, which is in the lowlands near the northwest coast of the island.  It is warmer and drier that the other location.  Since the plant didn’t have that many roots and no new growths, I put it over a pond, where it would be in a humid environment but without the constant wetness of the other area in the mountains.

The plant slowly began producing new growths and thankfully they didn’t rot.  I was not paying too much attention to it since I worried that I might have been killing it with kindness.  The plant spent years over the pond, including staying there during two hurricanes, which didn’t have the slightest effect on it.

Last week as I was walking in the garden, I noticed that it had some green growths, I initially thought they were young pseudobulbs, but on closer inspection I found out they were inflorescences.  I was delighted.  The plant produced an inflorescence las year, but it was short and not impressive.

I took the plant with me to the mountains so I could enjoy the flowers.  The flowers opened today, the 22 of October.   Initially the fragrance was slight.  But by 10 am the fragrance was powerful, in fact so much so that it was cloying.   It is a nice fragrance, but as I stood close to the two inflorescences, it was so strong I could almost taste it.   In the afternoon, the flowers started to close and the fragrance abated considerably, by night fall I could detect no smell.  Many of the photos I have seen in the internet show flowers that are partly closed.
I plan to grow this orchid into a specimen plant.  It grows well with little special care.  My suspicion is that I was watering it too much.   It seems to like environmental humidity but not being wet all the time.  I plan to use a flat plate to grow it to allow it to ramble at will, the conical pseudobulbs are separated by stolon that is a few inches long.  This means that this orchid will escape from a typical pot in one or two years at most.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tolumnia variegata (Sw.) Braem 1986, with flowers that appear to lack anthocyanin, these flowers are unlike any I have ever seen in the wild.

Photograph with flash

Photograph with natural light

Tolumnia variegata is one of the most common orchids in Puerto Rico.  It is often found in association with coffee plants, so its common name is "little angel of the coffee plantation".  Over the years I have seen, hundreds, maybe thousands of flowers of this species, in inflorescences of plants growing in the forest in Rio Abajo and in other types of habitats, from dry coastal scrub to moist karst forest.   The flowers usually have the same colors although they vary in size and number of flowers in the inflorescence.   A friend showed me this plant.  The flowers seem to lack anthocyanin, the pigment that produces purple and red color in the flowers.  My friend, who has seen even more Tolumnia flowers than me agrees that this plant is unique.  Sadly because it has been raining copiously in the last two weeks, only one of the flowers was in good condition.  The others were spotted or had sooty mold over them.  I am not sure what is the way to describe this variant of the species.  But it reminds me of an alba type flower.  There will be an effort to self the flowers so that seed might be collected.  Hopefully it will be successful so that the genetics of this variant might be preserved.

Typical Tolumnia variegata from the locality this plant was seen

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Den. Ueang Pheung (Den. jenkinsii x Den. aggregatum) cultural notes

This hybrid is the product of the cross of two similar especies.  The species are so similar that some consider them the same species.  Dendrobium (aggregatum) lyndleyi produces long inflorescences of yellow flowers.  Dendrobium jenkinsii produces one or two flowered inflorescences of relatively large flowers that can rival the size of the cane that produced them.  The culture for both species is identical.   I decided to grow this plant in a wire basket instead of the usual tree fern trunk due to the fact that the warm and wet weather of my locality tends to speed the bacterial decay tree fern to such an extent that in a few years. if it is subjected to a steady stream of fertilizer, it becomes soft and begins to break down.  

The only differences I have noted between the hybrid and the species Dendrobium lydleyi is that the species needs a stronger, longer exposure to the sun to bloom well.  And that the species will sometimes bloom poorly if it is watered during the coldest driest part of the year.


Light: Bright light, a few hours of full sun in the morning, but the plants are protected from the midday sun.  The rest of the day it is shaded by trees. 

Temperature:  In my climate, the temperatures are the lowest in February when they go down to 14 C.  From June to October the high temperatures are 32 C.  The plant grows well in this range.

Watering: The plant is watered every three to two days, when the basket is approaching dryness.  It is only watered in the dry season, the rest of the year the local rain pattern gives it enough water to sustain growth.

Fertilizer:  It is given a 20-20-20 fertilizer but only if it is showing new growths.  When the plant starts a growth cycle, a small quantity of manure is put over the potting material.

Potting:  In a wire basket, in medium bark.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cattleya nobilior Rchb.f 1883, grown near the town of Lares, Puerto Rico

The interior of the island of Puerto Rico is mountainous and because of this the temperatures are cooler than in the coast and environmental humidity is higher.  This produces favorable climatic conditions for the successful culture of many types of orchids.  This plant was grown near the town of Lares.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Sarcoglottis sceptrodes (Rchb. f.) Schltr. 1920,

Photographed in 2019 at the 70 annual Puerto Rico orchid society show in the Jardin Botanico de Rio Piedras.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Vanda Boschii (Vanda luzonica x Vanda tricolor)

Photographed near the town of Lares, in Puerto Rico.  The climate in the central mountainous part of the island of Puerto Rico is well suited for the cultivation of these orchids due to the high local humidity frequent rains and moderate temperatures.

A puertorican parrot displaying to others of its flock.

Sometimes the puertorican parrots will open partially open their wings when they are displaying to other birds.  My guess is that they do so to make themselves look bigger.  This wing opening is often accompanied with bowing, and a side to side motion.  This particular bird was displaying in front of two other birds who were licking the sap that oozed from a broken banana leave.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

When resting among the foliage, the green color of the puerto rican parrot, Amazona vittata, serves as a great camouflage

The puerto rican parrot is one of the Amazons with the the least color aside from green.  When resting or hiding among the vegetation it is very hard to see.  These two parrots were photographed just after sun down.  As you can see by the retracted foot inside the plumage of the left parrots, it is quite at home and relaxed in the tree stump.  The left parrot vocalizing loudly, something they do at sundown and at sunrise.  The bird to the left has a radio transmitter.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Vanda suavis Lindl. 1848,

This plant was grown in Lares, Puerto Rico.  It is grown with plenty of humidity and it gets full sun for some hours a day.  An stunning example of the species more commonly known as Vanda tricolor var. suavis

Scuticaria salesiana Dressler 1968

Photographed at the March 2019 Puerto Rico orchid society show.

Cadetia taylori [F. Mueller]Schlechter 1912, considered a Dendrobium

This plant was photographed in March 2019, at the 70 annual show of the Puerto Rico orchid society.

Dendrophylax funalis [Sw.]Fawcett 1889, in the 70 Puerto Rico orchid society show in March 2019

It is rare to see leafless orchids displayed at local orchid shows.  This was a rare treat.  This plant needs high humidity environmental, as well as conscientious care to do well.   

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Coryanthes macrantha [Hooker]Hooker 1831, an orchid with an amazingly complex structure.

The flowers of Coryanthes are some of the most complex and fascinating in the world.  The flowers have an inner pool, scent secreting surfaces and glands that secrete liquid to fill the pool.  A full description of the flowers is beyond the scope of this post but I recommend highly reading about the natural history of these amazing orchids.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Sacoila lanceolata (Aubl.) Garay 1982, for many year this plant eluded me, I found it at a roadside. I expected the flowers to be red, but the flowers I found were orange

Sacoila lanceolata is a terrestrial orchid that is widespread in the Antilles and tropical America.  In the photos I have seen of the species, the flowers are bright red.  But the population I saw in the west of the island of Puerto Rico, is pale orange.  Apparently there are also yellow ones, but I have not seen them only heard about them.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Dendrobium trantuanii Perner & Dang 2003, blooms in 2019

A lovely plant that survived an extensive period of neglect after hurricane Maria passed over my home. 

Spiranthes torta (Thunb.)Garay & H.R.Sweet, I photographed this little plant in a grassy area in the town of Lares, Puerto Rico

I saw this plant in a grassy area in the town of Moca.  The plants are small and easily missed among the grass.  I had to get into my belly to be able to take a close up of the flowers.   It is native of Puerto Rico and many other places.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Psychilis macconnelliae Sauleda (1988), a plant with a pure white lip that is not an alba form, from St. Croix Virgin Islands

One of the defining characteristics of Psy. macconnelliae is its large pink lip.  This particular plant is notable for having a pure white lip.   The plant is not an alba form since you can see it can produce pink pigments by the color of the column of the flower.  It is from the island of St. Croix, where there are large populations of this orchid growing near the seaside.  Generally, in Psychilis species one can see a degree of intraspecific variation in color of the flowers.  But the only other plants with a pure white lip I have seen are the alba forms of Psy, krugii.   For a view of the usual color of the flowers of Psy. macconelliae, use the following link:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Male Puerto Rican parrot displaying to two apparently indifferent females

In the Rio Abajo forest in Arecibo I was able to observe a male Puerto Rican parrot cupping his wings and moving his body from side to side on a bare branch a few feet from two females.  The male is making himself seem larger and he is moving in a way that presumably is particularly sensual and attractive.  The two females were liking the sap that was oozing from the raquis of a banana leaf.  The females had broken the raquis to gain access to the sap.  It seems the dance was a success, eventually the male left and the females followed him.

En el bosque de Rio Abajo, Arecibo, pude observar un macho de cotorra de Puerto Rico abriendo parcialmente sus alas y moviendo su cuerpo de lado a lado en una rama a algunos pies de dos hembras.  El macho esta haciendo su cuerpo mas grande y moviéndose en lo que presumimos que es una forma especialmente sensual y atractiva.  Las dos hembras, se encontraban lamiendo la savia que manaba del raquis de una hoja de guineo que habían partido adrede para tener acceso a la savia.  Al parecer la danza fue exitosa, cuando el macho se fue, las hembras lo siguieron.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Bletia patula Graham 1836 a flower without any trace of pigmentation

Alba forms of Bletia patula are very rare in Puerto Rico.  For many years no local plants that are pure white were seen.  There was a single clone, cultivated in Mayaguez that was awarded by the American Orchid Society.  This plant was photographed "in situ" in a swampy area in the northern karst region.  It is part of a very tiny population.  Most of the flowers were grievously damaged either by insects or some kind of fungal or bacteria spotting of the pure white floral segments.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dendrobium anosmum var. huttoni

In the difficult weeks and months after the hurricane, I lost hundreds of plants to the changed conditions of illumination, humidity and rainfall.  This is one of the survivors of hurricane Maria.  Last year it was in poor shape and it didn't bloom.  The 2018 canes were small for the plant but they were large enough to produce four flowers.  I expect that as it recuperates from the damage it suffered after the hurricane it will go back to blooming well.  It is highly fragrant and even with only four flowers it perfumes the area around it.