Friday, September 13, 2019

Dendrobium anosmum first flowering

I have been waiting for my Dendrobium anosmum to flower since it pushed out tiny buds back in July. I have been patiently waiting while watching the buds develop to full size. I have two of these; the other is about a month behind the first one. The flowers are fragrant, not overpowering, but pleasantly fragrant of raspberries or a similar fruit. I have been wanting to flower one of these for about 8 years now. I initially began growing my own from seed back in 2011 and 2012, but never got the opportunity to raise my seedlings to flowering size before leaving South Africa. This species seems to do quite well here in Townsville (dry tropics), as do many of the Dendrobium species. My larger plant has canes of about 70-80 cm long, and is currently also pushing out new growth.

Buds just starting to emerge in July

Buds the day before opening (12 September)
Fully opened bloom, about 10 cm across

Another perspective
The next morning

Monday, September 9, 2019

Dendrobium tortile opens first bloom

Over the last two days I have been photographing the progress of my Dendrobium tortile buds as they begin to open. I took several images over a few hours and selected the best to demonstrate the opening of the buds. I have some really nice looking Dendrobium anosmum also waiting to open their large swollen buds soon too. This species though is a real hurry-up-and-wait! It certainly takes its time to produce the buds and to grow them to flowering size - I have been waiting for ages, and I am getting impatient. I am sure though that the wait will eventually be worth it, and I look forward to posting images of its blooms too in the near future.

Sequence of photos showing the opening of a Dendrobium tortile bloom
Fully opened

Friday, September 6, 2019

Townsville Orchid Society spring show 2019

Today I went to the Townsville Orchid Society spring show to have a look at some of the spectacular plants in bloom, and to hopefully pick a few up for myself that were on sale. The show is being held from Friday 6th September to Sunday 8th September at the society's hall on Charles Street. 

Apart from the usual suspects, there were some really interesting species and hybrids displayed which caught my eye (and nose). One in particular, Cymbidium canaliculatum var. Sparkesii was just incredible to view. The plant was super healthy and bold, with flowers just beginning to open (see some pics below). This is certainly a species that I would eventually like to get for my growing collection in future! There were also some awesome (near perfect) Phaius tankervilleae specimens, one of which had blooms up to nearly my height.

There were some good plants on offer too. Many good seedlings were available for some species that are quite unusual - I managed to get an advanced seedling of Robiquetia cerina, and also the primary hybrid Psychopsis mariposa alba. I also picked up (nearly missed) a tiny Dockrillia cucumerina mounted on a tiny piece of cork bark, a healthy Dendrobium tortile, and D. aphyllum. I was disappointed however, that there were two separate vendors selling plants that were clearly diseased with Phyllosticta fungus, which is easily spread between plants, and should never have been allowed anywhere near the exhibited plants of members, let alone at an orchid show! I was also surprised that several species names listed on exhibition plants were misspelled. 

I have attached some pics below:

Ansellia africana

Bulbophyllum Ambrosia

Chysis bractescens

Cymbidium Australian Midnight

Cymbidium canaliculatum var. Sparkesii

C. canaliculatum var. Sparkesii close-up

Cynorkis fastigiata

Dendrobium Aussie Sweetness

Dendrobium capituliflorum

Dendrobium farmeri

Dendrobium lindleyi

Dendrobium secundum alba

Dendrobium secundum

Dendrobium speciosum

Dendrobium tortile

Phaius tankervilleae alba

Phaius tankervilleae

Phaius tankervilleae close-up

Phalaenopsis schilleriana

Renanthera Bella

Trias oblonga

(Vanda hindsii x V. luteola) x V. roeblingiana

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Rhynchostylis gigantea in bloom and some photo play

I have been spending much time lately simply taking in the incredible fragrance of my flowering Rhynchostylis gigantea. The neighbours must think I am weird when I perch myself on the ladder with my head in the blooms! I recently added R. gigantea 'spots' and R. gigantea 'Red' to my collection, although the missus insists that the latter is not red at all... I am still looking for the peach or orange variety.

Rhynchostylis gigantea 'alba'
Rhychostylis gigantea 'spots'
Rhynchostylis gigantea 'red'
While enjoying the rhynchos, I decided to play with some photograph to see how different the flowers might look with ultraviolet photography versus normal light spectrum photography. So, I took a picture of R. gigantea 'spots' with my Olympus stylus TG 860 tough (normal photography; Fig A, and then with my Nikon D3300 18-55 modified to ultraviolet only (UV photography; Fig B, converted to greyscale). It is interesting to note that the blooms reflect UV uniformly, and not differentially between pigments. In other words, the 'spots' don't seem to have any visual significance in the UV spectrum at all.

Fig A. Rhynchostylis gigantea 'spots' with the Olympus camera

Fig B. Rhynchostylis gigantea 'spots' UV photograph with the modified Nikon camera

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Some new blooms this November

I have been pleasantly surprised with the flowering of some of my plants this year, and some of the growth put on in the last two. My Papilionanthe Amy literally went from a plant of about 40 cm long in October 2016 to just over 2 m tall today, having firmly cemented itself to a wooden pillar holding up the pergola. It flowered for the first time too, but beyond the height of the roof of the pergola which made it really interesting to photograph. I think the neighbours think I am crazy.

Papilionanthe Amy is a primary hybrid between P. hookeriana (see link here) and P. tricuspidata, (see link here) originally made in 1940. It has quite unusual flowers. 

Papilionanthe Amy
Other plants in flower include Myrmecophila tibicinis, and Cymbidium aloifolium. I was hoping I might get some Coelogyne parishii blooms this year, but all I got was foliage. A note on M. tibicinis - it has a very unique fragrance, almost a spicy mixed with a sweet smell which it seems to be able to switch on very rapidly indeed immediately after watering in the morning.

Myrmecophila tibicinis
Cymbidium aloifolium

Cymbidium aloifolium close-up of flower

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Orchid research: on the hunt

Dear readers

I would like to please request your assistance. I am currently looking for a post-doctoral research opportunity in one of my two foci of interest, orchid research/ orchid conservation, or in the marine sciences. If you know of anyone looking to fill a post-doctoral position in orchid research or conservation please drop me an email at

Many thanks, David

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cymbidium canaliculatum growing wild on campus at JCU, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Cymbidium canaliculatum
I was shown this little colony of Cymbidium canaliculatum by one of the James Cook University Estate workers recently while organising a log for a mount for the Myrmecophyla tibicinnis. These plants are growing on top of a tall dead gum (see image below) that had preciously been cut after it had died. The plants established on their own, and I also recently found another seedling growing just a stone's throw away from these plants on a small bottlebrush tree. It is really good to see these plants doing so well. The one in the foreground has previously flowered (see dried, spent spike stalk).

High up on top of a dead gum tree
According to IOSPE, this species is found in the hollows of dead branches, and flowers in Spring. Here is a link to the university plant list, and the Atlas of Living Australia taxon page with distribution map and additional data.