Dendrobium aphyllum

We have so many remarkable orchids in flower at the moment I feel I need to feature two today. I will start with an old favourite. 

Dendrobium aphyllum is an orchid we know well from the lowland valleys of Sikkim.

We have seen the species during our spring visits to Sikkim where it is common on the road from Siliguri to Gangtok where it clothes deciduous trees along the river Teesta. (see photo 2)

Dendrobium aphyllum is a warm growing species and grows on trees from 200m to about 900m altitude. It also grows as a lithophyte on large boulders and cliffs.

The species is very pendulous with long thin canes that grow with lush light green leaves during the very wet summer from May to September. Plants then drop all of the leaves and remain leafless until flowering. We grow the species in our cloudforest greenhouse  growing high above our cool growing Masdevallias, keeping it really wet all summer and then bone dry from December to February when it loses its leaves. We hang it high above the door to our greenhouse where it is as warm and bright as possible all winter.

The species flowers well as a small plant but over time can form a large clump as shown by this magnificent specimen near the road to Gangtok in Sikkim (photo 3). You may just be able to see the bright pink of Vanda ampulacea on the opposite side of the tree from the dendrobium.