Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orchids of Luzon

I had the chance to photograph orchids in the lush gardens of the Botolan Wildlife Center in Zambales. Ronald Achacoso, who accompanied us in the trip, tells us that Zambales is actually a haven for orchids. Though a lot of the blooming orchids in the wildlife center are Zambales natives, most of them could still be found in other parts of Luzon and sometimes even the Visayas and Mindanao. We hope it would stay that way so that their beauty can still be appreciated in the future.

Cymbidium atropurpureum is one of 2 native species of Cymbidiums in the Philippines, the other being the lesser attractive but more common C. finlaysonianum. I was surprised to see the deep almost bloody color of the flowers, very different from the drab brown-yellow of C. finlaysonianum.

Another deep-color flowered orchid is the Vanda merrillii with dark reddish brown and yellow hues. This orchid is endemic to the mountains of Luzon.

Probably the most common we saw are specimens of Vanda lamellata. They are practically grown in all Zambales household gardens. V. lamellata grows in lower altitudes in the Philippines upto Borneo. I have seen this growing in the mangrove forests of Busuanga attached to fallen mangrove trees.

The larger flowered Vanda luzonica is our companion's (Ernie Alvaran, who identified the orchids in this blog)) most sought after species. So much so that when he spotted one growing in one of the local's houses, he braved asking for a plant from a stranger's house. Fortunately he was rewarded with one for the effort. The flowers of V. luzonica are bigger than V. lamellata but drabber in color. It is endemic to Zambales, Tarlac and some other neighboring provinces.

This Grammatophyllum is probably G. scriptum (tawa-tawa) which is also a widespread low altitude orchid. It could be seen with a wide range in the Philippines, but also in other neighboring countries.

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