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Paphiopedilum wardii  (Southwestn China/Northern Burma)

This orchid occurs in deep shade among leaf litter and debris on east facing slopes. Because of its distinctly patterned foliage, I find it easy to recognize within a collection even out of bloom. Its not a difficult species to grow but I feel its particularly sensitive to bud blast. Even if the bud has cleared the crown of the foliage- (the usual site of bud demise) it will at times rot mid air.  Even with this, I find it deserves a worthwhile spot in any Slipper collection. High-res

Paphiopedilum wardii  (Southwestn China/Northern Burma)

This orchid occurs in deep shade among leaf litter and debris on east facing slopes. Because of its distinctly patterned foliage, I find it easy to recognize within a collection even out of bloom. Its not a difficult species to grow but I feel its particularly sensitive to bud blast. Even if the bud has cleared the crown of the foliage- (the usual site of bud demise) it will at times rot mid air.  Even with this, I find it deserves a worthwhile spot in any Slipper collection.

Anacheilium cochleatum {Syn. Encyclia}  (Florida south to Columbia)

 An orchid with many names- Anacheilium cochleatum never ceases to get attention. Known as the “Cockleshell” or “Octopus” orchid to some, Its non-resupinate (upside down) flowers have always reminded me of a swarm of flying aliens with beady yellow eyes and a giant elaborate cloak (besides, wouldn’t that technically be a “penta-pus”?)

In Spanish speaking parts of the world it is sometimes referred to as Orquedea negra for its almost black lip which strongly contrasts against the creamy-green tepals of the flowers. As with most orchids with a large range of natural habit, it can be variable in size and color but desrves space in any collection. 

Ansellia africana ‘Shadow Boxer’  (Africa)

Commonly known as the ‘leopard orchid’, Ansellia africana is  a large and variably colored plant from warm coastal regions in Africa. Our ‘Shadowboxer’ clone is very dark compared to the more commonly seen flowers (more typically you see defined “spots” instead of a convergence of spotting which forms a solid color toward the tips of each tepal). There is even a form devoid of spots completely and has a pleasant soft green shade to the flowers. In fact, the only thing that competes with its variability in color would be its variability in medicinal uses by natives communities. Everything from teas to love potions can be made from the pseudo-bulbs, leaves, flowers or even roots. 

Bulb. echinolabium
Bulb. echinolabium

Bulbophyllum echinolabium  (Borneo/Sulawesi)

No matter how you see it Bulb. echinolabium is a show stopper. If the 18” flower or deeply colored and textured lip that sways in the wind as if on a minute hinge doesn’t intrigue you- then its fragrance will definitely leave a lasting impression. From first light until around noon, it smells very strongly of something dead. Not just a bad smell- a something has died smell. Then, after noon the odor disappears. I remember one time insisting that a customer come back the next morning to smell the flower before she purchased the plant. She promptly returned the next day with her heart set on buying it and with one smell changed her mind. It doesn’t help that it blooms in the warmest days of the year. If one flower is open hot-humid Bulbophyllum echinolabium hits you in the face the second you open the door to the greenhouse.

Echinolabium will usually begin to flower in late Spring and bloom throught the Summer. The flowers last about 4-5 days but the spike will continue to bloom for a couple of months and you can get up to 10 flowers before the spike fades. I grow these warm and wet (but well drained) and on the bright side of shady. 

Barkeria whartonianum (Oaxaca, Mexico)

Barkerias are Cattleya relatives found in hot seasonally-dry areas of Central American deciduous forests. Some species grow into a large ball of twisted roots and cane-like growths (i.e. Bark. skinneri) while others are somewhat disciplined and stay on the small side. Whartonianum is one of the latter.

Since they require bright light, seasonal watering and a quick dry down between waterings- success is usually achieved when grown on hard wood and placed in a very bright and well venelated area.