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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dendrobium obtusiwhat?

Full disclosure: I'm not 100% certain of the name of this plant. But I'm fairly certain it is not Dendrobium obtusisepalum, the name that appeared on the label that we received from the grower.

Dendrobium obtusisepalum is a name that appears in the horticultural trade, but is not recognized as a legitimate name for any Dendrobium species. There exists a Dendrobium obtusipetalum, a synonym for Dendrobium wentianum, but that is not our plant. I believe our plant may be Dendrobium chrysopterum Schuit. & de Vogel. But I won't know until an inter-library loan delivers the original description published in the journal Orchideenfreund.

Why does it matter? In addition to maintaining the accuracy of our plant records, the correct name determines how we grow our plants. Dendrobium obtusipetalum is a high elevation species. But Dendrobium chrysopterum grows at 600 to 800 meters, with year round intermediate to warm temperatures and copious rainfall. If we want to keep this plant alive, we need to know its correct name.

Dendrobium chrysopterum grows in the Lake Kutubu area in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, according to Lavarack, Harris and Stocker in Dendrobium and its Relatives. It grows as an epiphyte in trees on lowland forest ridges where daytime maximum temperature reaches 87ยบ F.

Regardless of name, this plant is a stunner and it could be the most commented upon orchid we have on display this week. The candy corn colored flowers are grouped on arching leafless pseudobulbs. The new pseudobulbs have purple tinged leaves. I'm hoping we can set a capsule on this plant this week.

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