Family : Orchidaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to New Guinea where it grows as epiphyte on the most exposed branches of the trees in the humid forests close to water streams, up to about 1000 m of altitude.
The name of the genus is the combination of the Greek substantives “δένδρον” (dendron) = tree and “βίος” (bios) = life, with reference to the numerous species of the genus living on the trees; the name of the species is the combination of the Greek substantive “κοχλίας” (cochlias) = snail and of the suffix “-οειδής” (–oeidés), from “εἶδος” (êidos) = shape, look, with reference to the spirally curved petals.
Common names: shell-like dendrobium (English).
The Dendrobium cochliodes Schltr. (1912) is an epiphytic species with cylindrical pseudobulbs that may exceed the length of 1 m provided in the upper half of alternate leaves, distichous, oblong-elliptic, coriaceous, of glossy pale green colour above, opaque below.
Racemose inflorescences from the upper nodes usually erect, 20-40 cm long, bearing 15-30 flowers of 4-5 cm of diameter of suffused or tinged with brown yellow colour.
Linear-lanceolate sepals with pointed apex, curved, about 2,2 cm long and 0,7 cm broad, the lateral two are merged at the base of the column forming a sort of conical spur (mentum), almost erect, linear-spatulate petals with pointed apex, repeatedly twisted, about 3,8 cm long and 0,3-0,4 cm broad, trilobed labellum, 3 cm long and 1,5 cm broad, with erect lateral lobes at the sides of the column and oblong median lobe with retroflexed apex.
The flowers are long-lasting, 4-6 weeks.
It reproduces by seed, in vitro, and division, to be done by the vegetative restart, with each section provided of at least 3-4 pseudobulbs.
Species rare in cultivation, with particularly attractive flowers, requires high luminosity, also some hours of direct sun in the morning, medium-high temperatures in summer, 22-32 °C, slightly lower in winter, with night lowest values not under the 16 °C, high humidity, 70-85%, and constant air movement. Regular waterings during the growth, more spaced in winter until the vegetative restart, using rainwater, demineralised or by reverse osmosis; for the fertilizations, in spring-summer, are preferable the hydrosoluble balanced products, with microelements, at ¼ of the dosage shown on the package. It is usually cultivated in pot or in baskets with aerated and draining compost formed by bark or coir fragments and medium-sliced charcoal. The repottings, when necessary, are to be done by the vegetative restart.
The species is reported in the appendix II of the CITES (species whose trade is internationally ruled).
Synonyms: Dendrobium ruidilobum J.J.Sm. (1934); Durabaculum cochliodes (Schltr.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones (2002); Durabaculum ruidilobum (J.J.Sm.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones (2002).
The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza