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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Charismatic Megaflora

Grammatophyllum scriptum
Orchids come in a range of sizes from micro-mini to large, some very large indeed.

G.  speciosum (the pink flowers belong to a Spathiglottis )
And then there is Grammatophyllum speciosum at the extreme end of the size spectrum, often described as the largest of all orchids. G. speciosum is a sprawling monster with pseudobulbs eventually growing to 9 ft. in length. Phillip Cribb, in the Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species, describes a specimen shown at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851 weighing almost 2 tons. It's a mighty tree that can support such a gargantuan epiphyte. Actually, you are just as likely to come across one in cultivation grown as a terrestrial, with its immense canes arching over the ground like an enormous crab spider.

G. speciosum
A baby G. speciosum in a basket on top of the cedar pergola. When it grows up it will produce spikes 6 ft. or more in length. Note the wiry trash basket roots which grow upwards and collect nutritious organic matter.

Grammatophyllum scriptum var. citrinum
Grammatophyllum scriptum has ovoid pseudobulbs and a slightly more compact growth habit. We love it because it flowers magnificently in late summer when most other orchids just want to lounge by the reflection pool with a cold drink.
Massive plants, immensely rewarding to grow. G. scriptum is somewhat susceptible to bacterial disease which infects the leaves and can defoliate the plant. We had a bit of a problem with that this spring, but for the most part Grammatophyllum are super easy to grow in a hot climate like ours. They love soaking up the heat and sun on top of our pergola. You do need a lot of space for them.


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