Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cynorkis fastigiata - treat me with the respect I deserve!

I received seeds of Cynorkis fastigiata from a friend of mine in the Netherlands in August last year which I subsequently processed upon arrival, not knowing what the plant or the flowers looked like. It was only when I got a good germination rate that I decided to see what exactly these little terrestrials looked like, where they were originally from and what their growing conditions might be for culture.

I find it interesting that many online orchid forums where this species has been discussed consider it to be a weed. However, I cannot find any published account of it being registered as a weed, even on Australias's Quarantine list which is particularly comprehensive. It is likely considered a weed because of the habit which it has of setting its own seeds in the greehouse which germinate relatively easily and can pop up in other plants' pots or on mounts. I would consider this great adaptation, not consideration as a weed. Certainly, this species has not currently become invasive by any means. This little orchid species is native to Madagascar, Seychelles and the Mascarene Islands (including Mauritius, Reunion, Rodrigues and Cargados Carajos), all of which are Western Indain Ocean, off the East coast of Africa. It boasts little pinkish flowers that are similar-looking to representatives of Habernaria (to which it is closely related). The considers the species an invasive species but gives no citation for this statement. In a link to "Invasive orchids: weeds we love to hate" it is mentioned as a potential problem for tropical climates and Australia, again without citation. I understand that there may be risk involved here but there is no research currently published to support this. Therefore, this species IS NOT an invasive species. By the above definition, I wonder how many of your everyday garden plants would then be considered as invasive species??? Something to think about... The true definition (that is extensively accepted) of an invasive species is an introduced organism that negatively affects the habitats and the bioregions they invade, environmentally, economically, and/or ecologically (citation). By the CORRECT definition, in the least, C. fastigiata should be termed an "introduced species", the definition for which is: An introduced, neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberately or accidentally (citation). And only such if it is actually reported in naturalised populations outside of its indigenous range. Ok, so some see this little chap as a weed then - so what. I think it is beautiful as do many others and I do not consider it a weed at all. In fact I recently came accross a website offering the species for sale for US$40 a plant, which equates to roughly R320 per plant.

The seeds that germinated well for me grew incredibly fast and I split the few that I had into larger flasks to grow-on. As only one flask was requested, I kept one aside for myself and de-flasked the seedlings earlier this week. The little tubers of the pants are already being formed as can be seen in the photo and I have potted up 5 small compots into a mix of river sand and seedling mix to see how they progress.

Cynorkis fastigiata ready for potting up
Healthy seedlings
Good roots and tubers forming
Potted up

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New plants and new flowers

My patience was rewarded recently with the flowering of my Ascocenda hybrid (Varut fucshia X Dr. Anek). I have been waiting forever for this hybrid to flower and I finally got it right. The flowers are a beautiful dark purple with some small dark spots. The flowers are about the same size as an average Phalaenopsis flower. This hybrid has no scent. I have crossed it with Phalaenopsis Carolina bronze meteor and P. aphrodite to see if anything happens. I have also crossed it with Ascocentrum ampullaceum, one of the new plants which arrived last week from Joburg. Apart from the A. ampullaceum, I received a pink form of Rhynchostylis coelestis (I was hoping for the blue!) and a lovely Dendrobium albosanguineum. All plants are flowering size and the Rhynchostylis is just starting to flower now as well.

Ascocenda Varut Fucshia X Dr. Anek

Close up flower

Phalaenopsis Carolina bronze meteor

Ascocentrum ampullaceum

A. ampullaceum flowers

Rhynchostylis coelestis (pink)

R. coelestis flowers
Dendrobium albosanguineum

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Update on flasks and germination times for species and some hybrids

I have been extremely busy with flasks lately. It has been challenging to keep up with all the re-plating while still ordering in seeds from overseas and sowing these and my own stock. Space is a luxury and I hope that by the time I completely run out of incubator space, some flasks will be ready for potting up to free up some space. The Dendrobium species have done well and have grown fast under my conditions. I find that they are not too fussy with media composition but the Bulbophyllum species and Trias species are fussy when it comes to too much residual water in the flasks. Their protocorms prefer to be kept on the dry side, like the Phalaenopsis protocorms and also the Anacheilium cochlaetum. The Rhynchostylis gigantea are shooting roots now and looking healthy. Cynorkis fastigiata is growing all over the place at an incredible rate and benefits well from stronger light it seems. Plants that have not done well are Vanda bensonii and V. denisoniana as well as Mastigeon putidum and Holcoglossum amesianum. The protocorms of the Vandas and M. putidum drowned somewhat in a thin layer of residual water on the surface of the medium but I have managed to save some of these by replating them out early to new drier medium and they appear to be greening up again. The Holcoglossum did well for several months until the second leaf was produced. Even after re-plating they just faded away and I lost these sadly. I am not quite sure what the problem was but I will figure it out eventually.

Bletilla hybrid

Cynorkis fastigiata

Dactylorhisa majalis

Dendrobium draconis

Dendrobium lituiflorum

Dendrobium griffithianum

Dendrobium hercoglossum

Dendrobium heterocarpum

Dendrobium kingianum

Dendrobium findlayanum (Black eye)

Dendrobium parishii

Dendrobium primulinum (yellow)

Disa atricapilla

Disa uniflora

Phalaenopsis hybrid (my own cross)

Polystachya panniculata

Polystachya transvaalensis

Rhynchostylis gigantea

Satyrium coriifolium
Anacheilium cochleatum
For those who are interested to know how long it takes some species and hybrids to germinate at approximately 26 Degrees Celsius with a light regiment of 16hrs:8hrs on/off, I have compiled a list of what I have recorded for the last short while of those I have successfully germinated (in days):

Acrolophia capensis - 33d
Acrolophia cochlearis - 62d
Anacheilium cochleatum - 24d
Angraecum sacciferum - 33d
Angraecum sesquipedale - 22d
Ansellia africana - 13d
Bletilla hybrids - 14-16d
Bletilla striata - 12d
Bonatea speciosa - 30-56d
Bulbophyllum siamense - 25d
Bulbophyllum patens - 30d
Bulbophyllum basicetum - 29d
Cynorkis fastigiata - 18d
Cymbidium aloifolium - 62d
Dactylorhisa majalis - 19d
Dendrobium ravanii - 42d
Dendrobium annosum - 23d
Dendrobium findlayanum - 24d
Dendrobium formosum - 21d
Dendrobium gratiotissimum - 23d
Dendrobium griffithianum - 22d
Dendrobium hercoglossum - 21d
Dendrobium kingianum -12d
Dendrobium lituiflorum - 15d
Dendrobium unicum - 29d
Dendrobium wardianum - 15d
Dendrobium lindleyi - 15d
Dendrobium parishii - 15d
Dendrobium polystrichum - 22d
Dendrobium primulinum - 21d
Dendrobium hercoglossum - 15d
Dendrobium heterocarpum - 15d
Dendrobium sutapense - 15d
Dendrobium palpebrae - 15d
Disa atricapilla - 20d
Disa bracteata - 104d
Disa cornuta - 51d
Disa harveiana - 40d
Disa thodei - 28d
Disa uniflora - 16d
Eulophia angolensis - 42d
Eulophia clavicornis - 50d
Eulophia speciosa - 30d
Eulophia spectabilis - 21d
Gymnadenia conopsea - 26d
Holcoglossum amesianum - 17d
Holothrix incurva - 20d
Microcoelia exilis - 33d
Myrmecophyla tibicinis - 17d
Mystacidium capense - 42d
Phalaenopsis lowii - 21d
Phalaenopsis hybrids - 16d
Polystachya anceps - 28d
Polystachya ottoniana - 15d
Polystachya panniculata - 23d
Polystachya transvaalensis - 30d
Rhynchostylis gigantea - 21d
Satyrium coriifolium - 57d
Satyrium hallackii - 72d
Stenoglottis fimbriata - 14d
Vanda bensonii - 18d
Vanda denisoniana - 18d

Monday, January 2, 2012

The New Year

Happy New Year to everyone!

I spent much time in the greenhouse over the Christmas season tending to some new flower spikes and adjusting the irrigation system. Some of my Polystachyas have started to flower now and I was fortunate to see the first flowering of my P. transvaalensis which was given to me about a year ago by a colleague who rescued it from a fallen branch from a tree on his farm in the Limpopo Province. I have many seedlings of this species coming through now too from Seeds given to me by Casper. I am just not quite sure what I will be doing with all of them in the future as I don't think they are a particularly appealing species. Maybe a few collectors will be interested but I will have to see. My P. ottoniana is also just starting to shoot a flowering spike. I am looking forward to hopefully setting some seeds on this one. The species is a bit tricky, although it does well in flask. It is just a bit more fussy than some of the other species when it comes to placement in the greenhouse and the amount of water it gets (it prefers to remain drier than the others). I also recently received a large P. zambesiaca from a friend of mine. The plant is in flower presently and I have pollinated a few of them to see if I can get it to set some seeds.

I have placed an order with Nollie for a few interesting species (not that I can actually remember quite now what on Earth I actually ordered!!!) - I will keep it a surprise until they arrive.

Polystachya transvaalensis
P. transvaalensis
Another flowering Polystachya in the greenhouse
Polystachya zambesiaca

Polystachya zambesiaca flowers
I have added a few pics below of a new visitor - or rather a resident in the greenhouse - a clicking stream frog which has become quite tame. He or she has made a home in one of the pots but I often see the frog in the evening moving between the plants.

The frog between the dendrobes
and visiting another pot
as tame as ever