Six on Saturday #51 (January 25, 2020)

There still isn’t a lot going on in either the garden or the greenhouse, but by carefully hoarding interesting sights, I have managed to scrape together the first Six on Saturday of the year.  1-3 are in the greenhouse, 4-6 outside.

1. Paphiopedilum liemianum (mottled leaf form).

Paph_liemianum1

Although I have four or five slipper orchids in bud, this is one of only two that are currently flowering.  It’s hardly surprising that  P. liemianum, from northern Sumatra, is flowering now, because it flowers almost constantly.  It’s one of the sequential flowering species of section Cochlopetalum, and it is a great choice if you have only a small orchid collection.  The inflorescences produce one flower after another, each one opening around the time that the old one drops.  By the time an inflorescence is exhausted, a new growth has usually matured and is ready to flower.

Typically, P. liemianum has plain green leaves, but this clone has an attractive mottled pattern.  Its flower is fairly small and poorly shaped compared to some of the line-bred forms that are available, making me suspect that the parent plant was selected for breeding primarily on the basis of its unusual foliage.

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The other slipper currently in bloom is Paphiopedilum villosum, which I featured in November.  Paph flowers last a looooong time.

2.  Monolena primuliflora

Monolena1

Monolena2

This unusual plant grows as an epiphyte or terrestrial in rainforest from Costa Rica to southern Peru and adjacent Brazil.  The flowers, while pretty, last less than a day, but the seed capsules are almost as attractive as the flowers and are significantly longer lived.  The thickened rhizome suggests a plant that can tolerate some drought, but looks can be deceiving.  The plants wilt and shrivel rapidly if the soil dries out.

Monolena3

I have lost track of how old this plant is.  Maybe ten or twelve years? In theory, I grow M. primuliflora in pure sphagnum moss kept constantly moist, but I think the sphagnum has all rotted away and new rhizome is just rooting into old decayed rhizome.

3. Lachenalia sp. (L. aloides?)

Lachenalia1

I received these unlabeled bulbs as part of a trade about seven years ago.  They have been growing in a 3-inch pot for about the last five years, blooming reliably in midwinter and going dormant by late February or early March.  I think they are the South African Lachenalia aloides var aloides (cape cowslip).

4. Lentinula edodes (shiitake)

shiitake1

We have harvested and eaten the first few shiitake mushrooms from the log garden that I inoculated with mycelium fourteen months ago.  No sign of the lion’s mane mushrooms yet.

5.  Phoradendron leucarpum (oak mistletoe) growing on Carya sp. (hickory)

Phoradendron1

Although it looks a lot like European mistletoe (Viscum album), our native oak mistletoe is in a completely different genus.  I’m not sure if P. leucarpum can be substituted for European mistletoe in magic potion, but it seems to work just as well at Christmas time.  The only difficulty lies in harvesting it. This mistletoe is about 40 or 50 feet up in one of our taller hickory trees.

Phoradendron2

6. Fuligo septica (dog vomit slime mold)

Fuligo

Fuligo septica is the most common, or at least the most conspicuous, slime mold in our garden.  Its aethelia (fruiting bodies) commonly appear on the hardwood mulch that I spread on the flowerbeds.  Often they are an extremely lurid, almost fluorescent yellow color.  This aethelium is somewhat pale but quite large–63 cm diameter.

The propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Six on Saturday #49 (November 30, 2019)

It was a bit of struggle to find six things to write about today.  There aren’t many orchids blooming in my greenhouse at this time of year, and the weather outside hasn’t been conducive to growth of much other than fungus.

1. Aplectrum hyemale (puttyroot orchid) and Lycoperdon species (puffball)

Aplectrum

While I don’t enjoy chilly, damp weather, these two species certainly do.  The striped winter-green leaf of an Aplectrum hyemale that I planted last spring has emerged among a dense crop of young puffballs.  I am fairly sure that these are Lycoperdon pyriforme, the pear-shaped puffball. If so, they should be edible, but I’m not certain enough of my identification skills to risk it.  As they say, every mushroom is edible…once.

According to wikipedia, Lycoperdon translates as “wolf farts.”  Just thought you should know.

2. Gardenia jasminoides (hardy gardenia)

Gardenia_fruit

The scented flowers of this G. jasminoides featured in Six on Saturday #46.  Although not fragrant, its fruit are as almost as attractive as the flowers and make a strong argument for growing wild type plants instead of sterile double-flowered clones.  The crown-like tips of the  fruit were originally green but have been burned by frost.

3. Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’

Yuletide

I featured this shrub in Six on Saturday #16 two years ago, but it is too good not to revisit.  When I took this photo, a few sluggish late-season bees were visiting the flowers and getting covered with pollen, but despite their attentions, I have never found fruit.  I’m not sure if this hybrid is completely sterile or just incapable of self pollination.  Flowers can be destroyed by temperatures in the mid 20s F (-3 or -4 C), but the buds mature over a fairly long period, giving me a good crop of flowers both before and after cold snaps.  In the summer, it makes an attractive dark green backdrop for warm weather flowers.

4.  Cattleya cernua

Cattleya_cernua

In the greenhouse, Cattleya cernua is flowering on a small slab of cork bark.  This miniature Brazilian orchid was once the type species of Sophronitis, a small genus of miniature epiphytic orchids that were distinguished from Cattleya mainly by flowers adapted for pollination by hummingbirds instead of bees.   However, DNA sequencing demonstrated that C. cernua wasn’t very closely related to the other Sophronitis species, and the whole genus has been sunk into an expanded Cattleya.

Most of the former Sophronitis are cloud forest species that are quite difficult to grow in North Carolina, but C. cernua thrives in our hot summers and brightens up the greenhouse at the dullest time of year.

5.  Zelenkoa onusta

Zelenkoa

Zelenkoa onusta is from Ecuador and Peru, where it sometimes grows on columnar cacti.  As suggested by this growth habit, it requires warm, dry conditions in cultivation.  My plant is in a small clay pot with a few chunks of scoria, but one of the best plants I have seen is at the Orchid Trail Nursery, growing on a live Pachypodium as a substitute for a cactus.

6. Paphiopedilum villosum

Paph_villosum1

And finally, a recent purchase. Paphiopedilum villosum is from Indochina, where it grows as a lithophyte or epiphyte in damp highland forests.  P. villosum has been popular among orchid growers since the Victorian period and is one of the foundations of the standard complex Paphiopedilum hybrids. This particular plant came from a nursery in Hawaii and is the product of selective breeding aimed at increasing the size of the dorsal sepal and minimizing its tendency to roll back along the sides.

Paph_villosum2

The propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Six on Saturday #48 (September 28, 2019)

We’re almost a week past the autumnal equinox, but it still feels like summer.  Temperatures are running about ten degrees F above normal, and we haven’t had measurable rain since August.  The soil is bone dry, and leaves are starting to dry up instead of changing color properly.  There’s a chance of a shower tonight, but the forecast for the next week is more of the same: bright sun and mid 80s-90s F until Friday at least.

1. Epiphyllum oxypetalum (queen of the night)

Epiphyllum1
Bud opening at 2100.
Epiphyllum2
Fully open at 2215
Epiphyllum3
Collapsing at 0700 the next morning

The large, fragrant flowers of E. oxypetalum, an epiphytic cactus from southern Mexico and Guatemala, open at night and fade by the next morning.  I was pleased with this solitary bloom, but when I posted a picture on Facebook, a friend told me that his plant had more than 40 flowers!

2. Spiranthes odorata?  (ladies’ tresses)

Spiranthes

I think this is S. odorata, but I’m really not sure how to distinguish that species from S. cernua.  Paul Martin Brown [1] says that there is considerable gene-flow between S. cernua and other Spiranthes species, so maybe a definite I.D. is impossible. Either way, I like the flowers.  These little orchids don’t seem to be very long-lived, but they seed around and sprout in the pots of various bog plants.  This one volunteered in a pot of Gentiana autumnalis.

3.  Diospyros virginiana (American persimmon)

persimmon1

persimmon2

About nine years ago, I transplanted some root suckers from a large persimmon planted by my wife’s grandparents in Pennsylvania, probably in the 1940s.  The transplants have finally given us some fruit, which is seedy but delicious.  These are the first of the harvest, and we’ll be picking more as they become soft enough to eat.  You do NOT want to sample an American persimmon that isn’t fully ripe.  They are unbelievably astringent.

4.  Hedychium coccineum ‘Applecourt’

Hedychium applecourt

I thought I had already featured this hardy ornamental ginger, but I can’t find it in any past blog posts.  The flowers lack the fragrance of H. coronarium, but I am a sucker for bright orange.  In previous years, it has given me one flush of flowers at the tail end of summer, but this year the clump has finally grown large enough to flower on and off for months.

5. Colchicum ‘Innocence’

Colchicum innocence

This is a white flowered clone of the sterile hybrid Colchicum byzantinus.  My colchicums have struggled this year, probably due to the high temperatures and lack of rain in autumn thus far, and many have not yet poked their noses above the soil.

6. Salvia elegans (pineapple sage)

Salvia_elegans

S. elegans is usually grown as an annual north of zone 8, but my plants survived last winter.  Another sign that climate zones are shifting north, I suppose.  This species gives me attractive foliage on a neat shrub-like form for most of the spring and summer, and then it flowers just in time for the autumn migration of the ruby-throated hummingbird.

The propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Reference

1. Brown, P.M. (2004).  Wild Orchids of the Southeastern United States North of Peninsular Florida.  University Press of Florida, Gainsville, Florida.

Late summer orchids

Encyclia_atrorubens1
Encyclia atrorubens ‘Littlefrog Princess’

In cultivation, most tropical orchids flower in late winter and spring, so the end of summer into early autumn is generally the quietest season for orchid growers.  With carefully chosen plants, however, an orchid collection is never entirely without flowers.  Here are two Encyclia species that produce gorgeous flowers in August and September, just when my greenhouse is looking most barren.

Encyclia atrorubens is from oak forests in Oaxaca and Guerrero states in Mexico.   Carl Withner reported that he saw it growing in the moutains near Acapulco [1].  In my greenhouse, new growth begins in the summer, and the plant flowers on immature pseudobulbs.  It seems susceptible to rot, so I grow it very dry in a terracotta pot with large chunks of scoria (red lava rock). It blooms well when the new growths and roots extend over the edge of the pot.

The flowers have very dark pigment, and the leaves become flushed with red/purple in bright light, but the flower stems are always a clear grassy green.  The contrast between stem and flower is exceptionally beautiful, and against a green background the dark flowers seem to float unattached.

Enc_dichroma
Encyclia dichroma

Encyclia dichroma grows on rocky outcrops under fairly arid conditions in the Brazilian state of Bahia.  The plants have elongated, cone-shaped pseudobulbs with rigid leaves  and grow well bright and dry with plenty of air movement.  Give it more light than you would a typical cattleya alliance plant.

Withner [2] says that plants in nature bloom in the Brazilian spring (September/October in the southern hemisphere) but in early summer in cultivation.  However, my plant consistently blooms in September at the same time as E. atrorubens.  A hybrid of the two might be interesting.

References

1. Withner, C.L. (1998). The Cattleyas and their Relatives: Volume V. Brassavola, Encyclia, and Other Genera of Mexico and Central America.  Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

2. Withner, C.L. (2000). The Cattleyas and their Relatives: Volume VI. The South American Encyclia Species.  Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Trichoglottis luzonensis

staurochilus1

I stopped by The Orchid Trail this week to see what was new.  The thing about orchids is there’s always something new.  After 26 years of growing orchids, I still can be fairly sure of seeing a plant I’ve never seen before whenever I visit a decent nursery.  Often, it’s a plant I’ve never even heard of before.  This week it was Trichoglottis luzonensis.

staurochilus2

Trichoglottis is a genus of about 85 species from tropical Asia and Oceania.  T. luzonensis, as suggested by its species epithet, comes from the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The genus name means “hairy tongue” and refers to the hairs covering the tongue-like labellum of some species.  This feature is easy to see in T. luzonensis and in T. atropurpurea, the other Trichoglottis species in my collection (See item 6 in Six on Saturday #9).  T. atropurpurea has short, leathery leaves on a vining stem and produces a single flower bud at each leaf axil.  In contrast, T. luzonensis has longer leaves and an inflorescence with many flowers, rather like a Vanda.  Perhaps the difference is flowering habit is why it has sometimes been segregated into the genus Staurochilus–which is how I found it labeled at the Orchid Trail.

staurochilus3

The plant at the Orchid Trail had some minor sunburn on its upper leaves, but that damage is just cosmetic.  The price was very reasonable and the flowers very appealing, so it came home with me.  It will reside in my shade house until autumn, and then I’ll hang it high in the greenhouse–though in view of the sunburn, it will go in the end of greenhouse that is covered with shade cloth.