Bulbophyllum pileatum

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



The species is native to Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Thailand where it grows on the trees of the humid forests from the sea level up to about 1000 m of altitude.

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 “pileatus, a, um” = provided of pileus, a felt hat worn by the Romans during the feasts, with reference to the shape of the anther.

The Bulbophyllum pileatum Lindl. (1844) is an epiphytic species with creeping rhizome rooting at the nodes, of about 3 mm of diameter, and thin pseudobulbs, spaced of 4-8 cm, 1,5-2,5 cm long and of 0,7-0,8 cm of diameter, provided at the apex of only one oblong-elliptical leaf with acute apex, about 15 cm long and 5 cm broad.

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The Bulbophyllum pileatum is an epiphyte with creeping rhizome rooting at the nodes, of the humid forests of South-East Asia © Giuseppe Mazza

Basal inflorescence, on a 6 cm long peduncle, carrying one only flower, of about 5 cm of diameter, of yellow colour with two purple crests converging at the base of the labellum inside of which is secreted a viscous substance; the flowers emit a slight scent and last about one week. Oblong sepals with acuminate apex, 2,2-2,5 cm long and 0,7 cm broad, the converging lateral ones, oblong petals with acute apex, 1,5-1,7 cm long and about 0,4-0,5 cm broad, linguiform mobile labellum with obtuse apex, of the same size as the petals, and cylindrical, 0,5 cm long, column.

It reproduces by seed, in vitro, and at amateur level by division, with each section provided of at least 3-4 pseudobulbs.

Orchid of easy cultivation; requires a partial shade, medium-high temperatures, 22-36 °C in summer, 16-26 °C in winter, high humidity, 70-90%, and air in constant light movement.

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The inflorescences have one only flower, slightly scented, of about 5 cm of diameter. Easy to grow © Giuseppe Mazza

Frequent waterings during the vegetative period, more spaced in winter, but without ever allowing the substratum to dry up It completely, utilizing rain water, by reverse osmosis or demineralized. Fertilizations, duly distributed in function to the vegetative status of the plant, with hydrosoluble balanced products, with microelements, at 1/4 the dosage shown on the package. It may be mounted on small trunks or rafts covered by sphagnum, long enough to allow the rhizome to freely elongate, or placed in pots or baskets with aerated and draining substratum that can be formed by bark of medium size, with addition of agriperlite, fragments of charcoal and sphagnum. It does not love to be disturbed, hence repottings and possible divisions are to be done when strictly necessary at the vegetative restart.

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

Synonyms: Sarcopodium pileatum (Lindl.) Lindl. (1853); Phyllorchis pileata (Lindl.) Kuntze (1891); Phyllorkis pileata (Lindl.) Kuntze (1891); Bulbophyllum fibrosum J.J.Sm. (1920).


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