Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nephelaphyllum pulchrum (in situ)


I have never seen this species of ground orchid, Nephelaphyllum pulchrum in flower in the wild before. So when I finally chanced upon one flowering during one of my outings, I was really happy! The small plant was very difficult to spot and my friends and I nearly missed it because it's perfectly camouflaged against the dark ground and leaf litter. I suppose this is also categorized as a jewel orchid? It’s got curious looking flowers with the labellum being the most prominent feature. I do wonder what pollinates it!

This was the first one I ever saw flowering in situ.

I always believe that once an orchid species has “chosen” to reveal itself to you in the wild, you will easily spot it again the next time. Strange but true! :) Perhaps they know and sense we mean no harm. But then what of the many that get stripped and illegally exported overseas by irresponsible collectors and sellers? If only they could disappear like those pop-away spiral plants in the movie Avatar!

After that first one, I saw more on different treks. It's really as if they just "reveal" themselves to you! :D This one's a little bug-chewed but otherwise big and healthy with flowers and developing seedpods. Interestingly, this plant was not truly rooted in the substrate, its roots were only loosely covered by leaf litter and humus.

Beautiful purple leaf underside.

Having trouble with your plants? Scatter lots of dead leaves around them like this! :D

Seed pods, a whole new generation await to be born!

A nice patch with a healthy colony of plants, big and small.

From my observations, this species loves loamy soil with lots of damp, decaying vegetable matter such as dead leaves and twigs. Definitely not an orchid that can be potted with just bricks and charcoal!


Cindy said...

Such lovely photos! I am growing this species in a gh in Northern California; can you tell me what appoximate light level these grow in? Deep shade vs dappled light, for example? Just yesterday I had repotted it from a terrestrial mix into a bulb pot with NZ sphagnum; after seeing your images I think I will try a layer of moss and some dead leaves, as you suggest. Any other comments on habitat useful in cultivation would be mosty appreciated.

sarawaklens said...

Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting. light level - i'd say about three layers of 50% grade shade cloth, pretty dark and very high humidity. sandy soil with lots of rotting plant debris/humus. Moss and humus should work too. I had one myself until snails killed it.

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