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


  1. Those babies are looking great. I hope they will become invasive in my shade house one day:)

  2. Haha! i had the same thought.


  3. Congratulations for your succesful seedlings!