Bulbophyllum tenuifolium

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



The species is native to Andaman Islands, Borneo, Cambodia, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines (Luzon and Leyte), Singapore (extinct), Sumatra and Thailand where it lives on the trees of the humid forests and on the mangroves from the sea level up to about 1900 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 combination of the Latin adjective “tenuis, e” = thin, small and of the substantive “folium, ii” = leaf.

Common names: s̄ingto lîn h̄elụ̄xng (Thai).

The Bulbophyllum tenuifolium (Blume) Lindl. (1830) is a very variable epiphytic species with creeping rhizome, rooting at the nodes with filiform roots, and ovoidal pseuobulbs, 0,6-1,8 cm tall and of 0,3-0,8 cm of diameter, spaced of 1-1,5 cm, of green colour more or less suffused with purple.

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Bulbophyllum tenuifolium is an epiphyte with creeping rhizome rooting at nodes of the humid South-East Asia forests, from the sea level up to about 1900 m of altitude © Giuseppe Mazza

Oblong-elliptical leaf at the apex of the pseudobulb with obtuse apex, 2-5 cm long and 0,6-1,2 cm broad, of green colour suffused with purple at the base, coriaceous. Basal inflorescence, on a 3-7 cm long peduncle, bearing a single flower, of about 1,2 cm of diameter, with ovary and 1,5-1,7 cm long pedicel. Lanceolate sepals, with acute apex, 0,5-1 cm long, greenish or yellowish with more or less intense purple veins, almost circular petals, 0,2-0,3 cm long of pale yellow colour with black spots, mobile linguiform labellum with obtuse apex, 0,4-0,7 cm long, of yellow colour with purple base, fleshy, and an about 1 mm long green column. It reproduces by seed, in vitro, and by division, with each section provided of at least 3-4 pseudobulbs.

Miniature orchid diffused in a vast area of South-East Asia, needs a semi-shaded position, medium-high temperatures in summer, 22-30 °C, slightly lower in winter, with lowest night ones not under the 15 °C, high humidity, 75-85%, and a constant aeration. Regular waterings and nebulizations during the growth period, but avoiding stagnations, more spaced in winter, allowing the substratum to partially dry up, utilizing rain water, demineralized, or by reverese osmosis.

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Miniature orchid with ovoidal pseudobulbs of 0,6-1,8 cm of diameter and inflorescences with one single flower of 1,2 cm of diameter © Giuseppe Mazza

Fertilizations every two weeks from spring to autumn, monthly in winter, utilizing a hydrosoluble balanced product, with microelements, at 1/5 the dosage advised on the packade. It may be mounted on small trunks, pieces of bark or rafts of arborescent ferns roots covered by sphagnum, or placed in pots or fairly low baskets with a particularly aerated and draining substratum that can be formed by medium sliced bark fragments with addition of sphagnum. The Repottings are to be done, when strictly necessary, at the vegetative restart.

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

Synonyms: Diphyes tenuifolia Blume (1825); Phyllorchis tenuiflora (Lindl.) Kuntze (1891); Phyllorkis tenuifolia (Blume) Kuntze (1891); Bulbophyllum angulatum J.J.Sm. (1908); Bulbophyllum microstele Schltr. (1910); Cirrhopetalum chryseum Kraenzl. (1910); Bulbophyllum chryseum (Kraenzl.) Ames (1911); Bulbophyllum nigromaculatum Holttum (1947).


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