Dendrobium sphenochilum

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini



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The Dendrobium sphenochilum is a New Guinea and Sulawesi epiphytic orchid with close stems, tendentially drooping due to the weight, seen that they may reach the 50 cm © Giuseppe Mazza

The species is native to New Guinea and Sulawesi where it lives in the rain forests and of mangroves at the margins of the water courses, from the sea level up to about 500 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 specific name is the combination of the Greek substantives “σφήν” (sphen) = wedge and “χεῖλος” (cheilos) = lip, with reference to the base of the labellum.

The Dendrobium sphenochilum F.Muell. & Kraenzl. (1894) is an epiphytic species with close stems tendentially erect, up to more than 50 cm long, provided for all their length of alternate leaves, distichous, compressed laterally, lanceolate with acute apex, 2-5 cm long and 0,4-1 cm broad, fleshy.

Inflorescences from the apical nodes, on an about 2 mm long peduncle, with various flowers, of 2-2,5 cm of diameter, opening in succession, of white colour with yellow spot at the apex of the labellum; pedicel and ovary 1-1,8 cm long.

Oblong-lanceolate dorsal sepal with acute apex, about 1 cm long and 0,5 cm broad, oblong-triangular lateral sepals with obtuse apex, about 2 cm long and 1 cm broad, united at the base to form a sort of a spur (mentum) with bilobed apex, about 1,5 cm long.

Oblong petals with sub-acute apex, about 1 cm long and 0,3 cm broad, labellum with cuneate base and emarginate obtuse apex and wavy margins, 2,2-2,4 cm long and 1 cm broad (spread), run by two thin crests almost up to the apex, and 1-2 mm long column.

It reproduces by seed, in vitro, by division and through the young plants forming at the nodes (in jargon “keiki”, that in Hawaiian means “sons”), that can be taken off when have formed their own rooting apparatus.

Vigourous species tillering quickly, with small delicate flowers, perfumed, of relatively short duration, about one week, but produced in succession for various months, requires a very luminous position, medium-high temperatures, 22-35 °C, and high humidity, 75-85%, together with a constant ventilation. Regular and abundant waterings, but allowing the roots to dry up before giving water again, utilizing rain water, demineralized or by reverse osmosis. It is usually mounted on pieces of bark or rafts of arborescent ferns roots with sphagnum at the base.

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Alternate distichous 2-5 cm leaves, fleshy, laterally compressed, and inflorescences at the apical nodes with candid flowers of 2-2,5 cm of diameter opening gradually © Giuseppe Mazza

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

Synonyms: Dendrobium litoreum F.M.Bailey (1906); Dendrobium confusum Schltr. (1911); Dendrobium shipmanii A.D.Hawkes (1957); Aporum shipmanii (A.D.Hawkes) Rauschert (1983); Chromatotriccum sphenochilum (F.Muell. & Kraenzl.) M.A.Clem. & D.L.Jones (2002); Aporum confusum M.A.Clem. (2003); Aporum litoreum (F.M.Bailey) M.A.Clem. (2003); Aporum sphenochilum (F.Muell. & Kraenzl.) M.A.Clem. (2003).


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