Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Phaius tankervilleae orchid

These beautiful orchids native to India, Southern Asia, New Guinea, Australia and many islands of the pacific very popular with gardeners and orchid collectors. There are currently about 50 species in phaius genus and tankervilleae is one of them. In nature they can be found in a variety of habitats and altitudes. They have squat pseudobulbs and large, pleated leaves. The flower spikes erect with several large, colorful flowers.

These species are terrestrial, which means that they happily grow in the garden and present great opportunity for landscaping with orchids in mild climates. They quite easy to grow and to flower, providing some of their requirements are met - they love organically rich soil, they prefer to be kept moist year-round and fertilized while actively growing. Plants of this very popular species will grow and flower under direct sunlight, but the best results are achieved with shaded conditions. If you have shaded spot in the garden and would like to grow an orchid or two, try phaius - they quite hardy and easy to grow and will reward you with many beautiful blooms.

There are other colorful phaius varieties - for instance phaius flavus have huge yellow/red color blooms, phaius pulchellus blooms with dark burgundy color flowers, there are others with lime green or dark brown or orange/ copper colored flowers, presenting quite a range for landscaping with orchids.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhizanthella slateri - rare underground orchid

This very unusual and very rare eastern orchid lives under the ground as rhizomes. When it wants to flower, it comes up to the surface and breaks the surface but is still under the leaf litter, and that's where it flowers.

Eastern underground orchids have been spotted at just a handful of sites in NSW and southern QLD, but scientists think there may be more undiscovered colonies of this rare and unusual prehistoric orchid. Through painstaking field work about a dozen of this endangered orchids were identified - but the exact locations were kept secret from the public.

Scientists are celebrating saving of this unusual orchid from the blades of a bulldozers on the NSW central coast earlier this year and their protection from a new highway project, north of Newcastle. They collected the plants for seed and transported them 430 km south to Canberra, but never expected them to survive and to flower. But they have - sending up several red-brown heads of flowers about the size of 20 cent piece - living scientists, and all orchid enthusiasts hopeful for the future of the species. They are planning to introduce this orchid back into the wild and ensure the long-term survival of this rare plant.
There was also extensive negotiations with RTA ( Roads and Traffic Authority) and the route of the highway was altered to avoid the known colonies of rhizanthella slateri, while other native plants were salvaged from the bulldozers.

So, here it is - extremely rare underground orchid saved for future generations to admire and to study and preserve and cherish and the motorists using soon-to-be-completed highway bypass North of Newcastle will notice strange bends in the highway - they actually tweaked the highway... it's got slight kink in it, because the orchid's there.