August 23, 2012

Dendrobium hellwigianum

Here is another Dendrobium from the Oxyglossum section, a group of mostly high-altitude, miniature Dendrobiums from Papua New Guinea, that have some of the longest lasting flowers in the orchid world, some of them lasting six months or more.  I have often wondered if this is due to a lack of pollinators at those high altitudes, but have never seen an explanation.

This species is named after a German orchid collector and blooms profusely when well grown.  My plant, still rather small, has around 50 flowers on it at present.  The distinctive white, purple and orange coloring of the flowers is concealed by the foliage to some extent since the flowers appear, three or four to a growth, among the leaves at the top of the small pseudobulbs.

The plant is 10 cm tall and the flowers are 3 cm tall.  Each growth produces four or five deeply channeled and nearly terete (pencil-like) leaves.  The flowers have a long spur at the base of lip that is nearly transparent and in which drops of nectar can be seen.  My plant is grown on a mount which is nearly covered with moss and which keeps the plant constantly damp.

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