Bulbophyllum patens

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



The species is native to Borneo, Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Vietnam where it grows in the swampy forests at low altitudes.

The name of the genus is the combination of the Greek substantives “βολβός” (bolbos) = bulb and “φύλλον” (phyllon) = leaf, with reference to the leaves growing at the apex of the pseudobulbs; the name of the species is the Latin adjective “patens, entis” = open, extended with reference to the lateral sepals.

Common names: anggrek darah (Indonesian); singto k̂āmpū dæng (Thai).

The Bulbophyllum patens King ex Hook.f. (1890) is an epiphytic species with ellipsoid pseudobulbs, 1,5-3,5 cm long and of 1-2 cm of diameter, arranged at a distance of 2-8 cm on a robust rhizome rooting at the nodes. The pseudobulbs are provided at the apex, on a 1-2 cm long petiole, of only one oblong-elliptic leaf with acute apex, 10-16 cm long and 4,5-6 cm broad, fleshy, of pale green colour.

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Epiphyte of the swampy forests of South-East Asia, the Bulbophyllum patens has ellipsoidal pseudobulbs with only one leaf carried by a strong rhizome rooting at nodes © Giuseppe Mazza

Basal inflorescence with solitary flower, on a peduncle covered by imbricate scales, 0,6-1,2 cm long, and yellowish pedicel spotted of red, 3,5-5 cm long, not resupinate (with the labellum on top over the column), with yellowish white sepals and petals densely spotted of reddish purple and purple labellum.

Linear-lanceolate dorsal sepal, curved, 2-2,5 cm long and 0,6-0,8 cm broad, ovate-lanceolate lateral sepals, slightly falcate, stretched, 2-2,5 cm long and about 1 cm broad, linear-lanceolate petals with acute apex, 2 cm long and about 0,5 cm broad, oblong-linear labellum, straight, fleshy, mobile, about 0,5 cm long and 0,3 cm broad, and column about 0,5 cm long.

The relatively short lasting flowers, 5-7 days, emit a light pleasant fragrance and are pollinated by the males of various species of fruit fly, in particular of the genus Bactrocera Macquart, 1835. When the insect, attracted by the smell (the main aromatic compound responsible is the zingerone), lands on the labellum causes with the weight its sudden lowering towards the column, being trapped, during the succesive movements for getting free, it takes off the pollinia it will deposit on the stigma of the next flower it will visit.

It reproduces by seed, in vitro, but usually by division, with each section provided of at least 4-5 pseudobulbs.

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The flowers emit a nice fragrance that attracts the males of various fruit flies, trapped and obliged to collect the pollinia © Giuseppe Mazza

Floriferous species of vigourous growth and of easy cultivation, needs a semi-shady position, medium-high temperatures, 22-30 °C, in summer, slightly cooler in winter, with lowest night ones not under the 16 °C, high humidity, 70-85%, and a constant air circulation. During the phase of growth the waterings and the nebulizations must be regular, but avoiding stagnations, more spaced in winter, allowing the substratum to partially dry up, utilizing rain water, demineralized or by reverse osmosis at ambient temperature. For the fertilizations may be used a hydrosoluble balanced product, with microelements, at 1/4 the dosage shown on the package, with a weekly frequence from spring to autumn, monthly in winter.

It can be mounted on trunks or rafts sufficiently ample to allow its vigourous development, with some sphagnum at the base, or placed in pots or baskets rather low and wide with particularly aerated and draining substratum formed by medium sized bark fragments, vegetal charcoal and sphagnum. Repottings and possible divisions are to be done by the vegetative regrowth.

The species is reported in the appendix II of CITES (species whose trade is internationally ruled).

Synonyms: Phyllorchis patens (King) Kuntze (1891); Phyllorkis patens (King ex Hook.f.) Kuntze (1891).


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