Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dendrobium discolor in Queensland, Australia

Dendrobium discolor 
I have been in Queensland for just over a year now. In April this year I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to visit Lizard Island on a research trip, some 30 km off Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. On one of the days I took a walk up to the island's highest peak, Cook's Look, at about 359 meters above sea level. I spotted and photographed numerous Dendrobium discolor plants from sea level to near the top of the peak. Most were very large and many of the older specimens bore evidence of damage suffered by cyclones in recent history. What was notable was that all specimens were either lithophytic, wedged securely in deep crevices in solid rock, or semi-terrestrial, found growing at the base of large bushes and trees, but seldom in their branches or off the main trunk (see images below). 

This is the largest Australian Dendrobium species and they are dotted about in various gardens on my walking route into university. Some of the photos I have included here show the size of some of the plants on Lizard island. The species is found throughout Queensland and also in Papua New Guinea. It is in flower now, and I photographed a large specimen in a tree on the university campus where I am currently studying. Unfortunately it appears as if someone tried to break a piece off this plant because there were several broken canes left on the plant, and a severed one lying on the ground at the base of the tree.

Dendrobium discolor habitat on Lizard Island

Lizard Island

Growing at the base of a small tree

Growing in a deep crevice between rocks in exposed location

A very large specimen

Several large specimens growing at the base of a bush

Growing at the base of trees and between rocks

Growing among fallen trees and branches

A very early flower on one plant from Lizard Island

Growing on a rock  with some good new growth evident

A young plant between rocks at the top of Cook's Look

A group of weather-beaten specimens at sea level

Flowering in a tree on campus at the university

Damaged canes from attempted theft?

Fresh severed cane at the base of the tree

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