Bulbophyllum plumatum

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



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Bulbophyllum plumatum is a small Philippines, Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra epiphyte © G. Mazza

The species is native to Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines (Mindanao) and Sumatra where it lives in the humid forests between the 200 and the 1500 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 “plumatus, a, um” = plumed, with references to the fringes present on the petals.

Common names: red ribbon bulbophyllum (English).

The Bulbophyllum plumatum Ames (1915) is an epiphytic species with creeping rhizome, of about 2 mm of diameter, rootings at the nodes.

Ovoidal-tetragonal pseudobulbs, spaced of 2-3 cm, 1,5-1,8 cm long, and of 0,7-1 cm of diameter, provided at the apex of only one ovate-elliptical leaf with sub-acute apex, 4-10 cm long and 1,5-3 cm broad, coriaceous, of intense green coloour.

Umbelliform basal inflorescence, on a 10-13 cm ascending thin peduncle, usually bearing 4 flowers, on a 0,5-0,6 cm long pedicel and ovary, hanging, with white dorsal sepal spotted of purple red, lateral sepals densely dotted of purple red and white petals with dark purple fringed margins; there is also a form wholly white and one yellow.

Ovate dorsal sepal with acute apex, concave, curved on the column, about 1,2 cm long and 1 cm broad, lateral sepals united for all their length to form a linear synsepal with acute apex and wrinkled surface, 8-20 cm long and about 1 cm broad, petals, about 0,6 cm long, elliptical with obtuse apex and numerous fringes on the margins even about 2 mm long, sub-triangular labellum, about 3 mm long and 2 mm broad, and about 3 mm long column.

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Usually the inflorescence has 4 hanging flowers with white purple fringed petals © G. Mazza

The flowers last about one week.

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

Species of easy cultivation, appreciated by the collectors due to the very particular shape of the inflorescences, requires a place of cultivation aerated and luminous with high atmospheric humidity, 70-80%, and medium-high temperatures, 18-35 °C, with lowest night ones not under the 15 °C; a high daily thermal excursion favours the blooming.

Frequent waterings and nebulizations, but allowing the roots to dry up, utilizing rain water, by reverse osmosis or demineralized, it does not have a precise period of rest, but it is preferable to slightly reduce the frequence in winter.

Fertilizations, duly distributed in function to the vegetative status of the plant, with balanced hydrosoluble products, with microelements, at 1/4 the dosage suggested on the package.

It grows well mounted on bark, trunks or cork rafts, with sphagnum at the base, as well as in pots or rather low baskets with draining and aerated compost, that may be fomed by medium sliced bark fragments and sphagnum.

Synonyms: Bulbophyllum jacobsonii J.J.Sm. (1935); Rhytionanthos plumatum (Ames) Garay, Hamer & Siegerist (1994).


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