Bulbophyllum roxburghii (Lindl.) Rchb.f.

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs small, ovoid-globose, attached 1 to 2 cm apart on very thin naked rhizome. Leaf solitary, oblanceolate, obtuse, obliquely notched, narrowed to the base, sessile, 3 to 5 long and around 1.5 cm in width. Scape shorter or as long as the leaves, sub erect, with two sheathing bracts and at the apex a radiating umbel of 10 to 15 beautiful flowers. Flowers are of pale brownish green base with reddish brown to dark purple spots and veins. The dorsal sepal is greenish brown with five dark purple veins and a few spots of the same colour, the lateral sepals are greenish brown with numerous spots and markings of various shades of reddish brown. Petals are rather with darker shade than the sepals and with three dark purple veins and numerous spots. The lip is of brownish yellow base and with purple spots and fine margin of the same shade. Both the dorsal sepal and petals are with purple coloured marginal cilia. The dorsal sepals are small, free from the lateral pair at its base, concave, lying over the column, ovate-acute, the tip with several soft hairs on its edges. The lateral pair, much longer than the dorsal, 3 to 4 times, narrowly oblong, very blunt, sub-falcate, coherent. Petals ovate, sub-acute, with very oblique bases, the edges ciliate. Lip broadly ovate at the base much narrowed in the anterior half, the apex obtuse, the edges entire.

Cirrhopetalum sikkimense, King & Pantl.(Bulbophyllum roxburghii, (Lindl.) Rchb.f
Cirrhopetalum sikkimense King & Pantl.(Bulbophyllum roxburghii (Lindl.) Rchb.f.)

 The Pursuit

Another interesting species of the region. Never ever thought I will come across it with such ease. I and one of my close friend, who came all the way from Delhi were camping on the banks of a small stream. He came to the hills only to enjoy a few nights of “tent stay” under the open sky. We were on a casual walk on the first evening of our stay looking for some fallen woods, so as to make a camp fire in the evening. Walked through the right bank of the stream for some meters and crossed the knee high waters on top of a fallen tree to the other side. Collected some fire wood and took the same path back. My friend with some wood logs on his hand was not able to balance his way back over the fallen tree and crossed the knee high waters through the stream. I crossed the stream first and asked him to pose for a photograph holding the logs while inside the waters. I clicked few pics and went to him to collect his mobile, so that a few pics can also be clicked on his mobile. Suddenly, I spotted this species on the under side of the fallen tree, with around 20 to 25 bulbs and eight umbels of flowers. Three of them were in full bloom. In excitement I even forgot the presence my friend and the logs we collected and started documenting this flower the rest of the evening. If my friend was not there, I would have never ventured to that region on those days and would have missed this beautiful species in bloom. The fact that the entire plant population on that fallen tree will get destroyed when the water level rises in the river in the coming monsoon season made us think about replanting those rare plants to a safer place. The next day we both carefully replanted all those plants from that fallen tree to a near by tree on the same habitat. This year too, my friend came exactly on the same days of the year to see his efforts bearing new flowers in the new host tree.

Coelogyne cristata Lindl.

Epiphyte as well as lithophyte. Pseudo-bulbs 3 to 5 cm long, cylindric, very smooth, sheathed at the base, attached rather 3 to 5 cm distant on stout rhizome. Entire plant is pendulous. Leaves in pairs, narrowed to the sessile base, linear-oblong, acute, 7 to 12 cm long and around 2 cm in width. Racemes from the base of the pseudobulbs, pendulous, about as long as the leaves. Flowers large 4 to 6 c across, white except the disc of the lip, which is yellowish orange. Sepals and petals sub-equal, oblong, with entire undulate edges. Lip oblong, with rounded lateral lobes, disc between the side lobes with four fimbriate lamellae.

Coelogyne cristata, Lindl
Coelogyne cristata Lindl.

The Pursuit

A plant often found in huge pendulous clusters growing on trees and rocks of the region above 7000 ft. Found this in flower on a holiday trip to a near by waterfall. However, my favourite shooting gear, 105mm/2.8 micro lens and flashes were not with me. Cutting short my trip ahead and with a promise of joining the party next day, I returned to my place to get all the flower shooting accessories. Some minor trouble with the vehicle delayed my return to the location. I reached there by evening only, by then the freshness of those flowers found in the morning was not there, and decided to find a few new ones the next day. Went ahead to the water falls to be with my friends for the evening. Started the journey before sunrise the next day so as to be at the spot to shoot the flower in full bloom. I found 28 of them in flower, it was such a wonderful sight and will remain in my mind when ever I talk about this particular species. As usual photographing a pure white flower is a very tricky affair. The latest lighting techniques I use will even make microscopic dusts visible. However, with God’s grace the one I selected to photograph was a perfect one and I had this wonderful photograph without much trouble.

Coelogyne cristata Lindl. – the variety form.

A look alike plant of its species, but very rarely found. The only observed difference is mainly with the flowers. The sepals and petals are not much undulated, slightly wavy only. The other difference is with the colouration of the disc between the side lobes, it is very pale yellow or in some cases not at all noticeable.

Coelogyne cristata, Lindl - The variety form
Coelogyne cristata Lindl – The variety form.

The Pursuit

Sir. George King and Robert Pantling reported about this variety in their monumental work. However, till date there was no mention of this variety anywhere. Thinking it is still there in the wild, I along with my friend from the village made several visits to the jungle where we found the species in abundance, everyday returning with a hope to find the variety. By the end of the season, we found a few rather huge pendulous clusters of white flowers relatively at a low altitude and in bloom. As it was around 20 feet high from the ground, we were not able to notice the lip colour. “No ways out, climb up the tree only”, commanded my friend. We both climbed that huge tree with the help of a rope encircled around it. He was the one who reached the tree top first and requested me in a very soft tone, “Swamiji, please go down and come up with your camera”, “I found what you were looking for”. Rest was something unimaginable, I reached the ground in hardly 2 seconds, picked up the camera and accessories went up the tree like an expert climber…… thanks I reached the top without a fall!!!!. Yes, it was the variety one, the one with pale yellow mid lobe or in many cases white itself. The flowers we got were also fresh, with no markings or dirt on its sepals and petals, thus producing this perfect photograph, for the first time.

Coelogyne corymbosa Lindl.

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs crowded, ovoid, slightly sheathed at the base, 2 to 4 cm long, attached to a stout rhizome. Leaves narrowly elliptic-oblong, acute, narrowed to the sessile base, 8 to 12 cm long and 2 to 4 cm in width. Raceme of variable size, decurved, its peduncle enclosed in large sheaths. Flowers 3 to 5, but for the yellow blotched lip the flower is pure white through out, very sweet-scented. Sepals and petals sub-equal, with the later narrower, lanceolate. Lip oblong, much contracted about the middle, the lateral lobes broad and blunt, the terminal lobe ovate.

Coelogyne corymbosa, Lindl
Coelogyne corymbosa Lindl.

The Pursuit

A rather sub-alpine species, found growing above 8000 ft only. However, becoming very rare in the wild. Enjoyed and photographed the beauty from the region in 2007 much before I started my work on orchids. Very attractive and sweet scented flower, also found in one of my favorite places in the hills. It is always in bloom along with the Summer rains. As it is milk white throughout, getting a perfect photograph, no shadows – no marks, will be always a bit tricky. This particular photograph was from my 2012 collection, by that time the species has gone rare.. However, I got this perfect one without any markings and spots on its sepals and petals from a very tall tree. The tree was so huge and tall with heavy branches, so had a nice climb and sat comfortably near the flower and produced this beautiful photograph. Also, the “seating” was so comfortable, which enabled me use the optical fibre cable lighting, to lit up the three lamellae!!!!!

Smitinandia micrantha (Lindl.) Holttum.

Epiphyte. The whole about about 25 to 30 cm in height with stout stem. Leaves oblong, keeled, obliquely truncate and slightly bifid, the base sheathed, as long as 6 to 10 cm long and 2 to 3 cm in width. Racemes leaf opposed, longer than the leaves, the peduncle and rachis stout. Flowers small, sepals and petals pale pink to rose base, lip of the darker shade, opening a few together from the base. Sepals broadly ovate, obtuse, spreading. Petals smaller than the sepals, very narrow, oblong, spreading. Lip fleshy, as long as the sepals with a wide blunt spur adpressed to and as long as the ovary.

Cleisostoma micranthum, (Lindl.) King & Pantl (Smitinandia micrantha (Lindl.) Holttum)
Cleisostoma micranthum (Lindl.) King & Pantl (Smitinandia micrantha (Lindl.) Holttum.)

The Pursuit

Another tropical plant with beautiful small flowers. The plant can easily be spotted at low altitudes. But for my regular visits to the region to look for other species I would have missed this one in flower, as it had bloomed much before than expected. Sir George King and Robert Pantling mentioned its blooming time as July and August, that is the monsoon months of the region, however it is found out that it is not a monsoon bloomer, it blooms much before the rains. I was observing the flowers, to make sure that whether all the buds will be open at the same time or not. The flowers, a few of them together, open from the base.I studied several plants and found that by the time the apex flowers are in bloom the base ones wither away. So I decided to find some fresh flowers (base end ones) in bloom and to document it. Found this particular one and photographed it with precision lighting to get the perfect colouration.

Bulbophyllum umbellatum var. umbellatum.

Epiphyte as well as lithophyte. Thick rhizomes with fibrous sheaths and many roots. Pseudo-bulbs 2 to 3 cm long, ovoid, wrinkled, either attached closely or slightly apart to the rhizome (hardly 1 cm apart). Leaf solitary, thick, narrowly oblong, the apex obtuse and notched, narrowed to the base, sessile, 7 to 10 cm long and 2 to 3 cm in width. Scape about twice as long as the pseudo-bulbs, with a sheath at the base. Flowers between 2 and 4 in umbels. Floral bract lanceolate, shorter than the stalked ovary. Flowers with pale brownish base with purple spots through out, the lip is pale green and column blotched with red. Dorsal sepal free at its base from the lateral pair, broadly ovate, acute; lateral sepals longer than the dorsal, free, ovate-lanceolate from a broad base, sub-acute, falcate, their upper margins curved inwards. Petals ovate, very obtuse. Sepals and petals veined. Lip oblong with a broad base, tapering to the sub-acute apex.

Cirrhopetalum maculosum, Lindl (Bulbophyllum umbellatum var. umbellatum)
Cirrhopetalum maculosum Lindl (Bulbophyllum umbellatum var. umbellatum)

The Pursuit

My favorite of all Cirrhopetalums. Not so common, but I found a good population in a deep dense forest the previous year. Missed the first year of blooming as the species bloomed much before than what was described by Sir George King and Robert Pantling in their work. Despite a long trek through the dense forest I was so disappointed to see the species in seed pods. Searched the whole area to find at least one flower in bloom, without any success. I still remember the return journey from the forest. The bus owner who doubles as its driver too, was asking me, “kya hogaya Swamiji, phool nahi mila?” (what happened Swamiji, hasn’t got the flower?). In the year 2012, determined to find them in bloom, I visited the spot much before the time of my previous year’s visit. Followed it with several visits in the coming weeks. Finally on a rainy day, with the Sun playing hide and seek, I got it in full bloom. As far as photography is concerned this is a very tricky flower to shoot, too much shadows are produced because of its peculiar shape. Finally after several shots and draining a huge number of batteries got this particular photograph. While returning I told to the bus owner, “bhai milgaya aach….!!!! (brother got it today). He was more happy than me.

Bulbophyllum scabratum Rchb.f.

Epiphyte as well as lithophyte. Always in clusters with pseudo-bulbs crowded together forming dense turfs. Bulbs very small, ovoid less than 1 cm long. Leaf solitary, linear-lanceolate, acute, the base narrowed to the petiole 5 to 8 cm long and less than 2 cm in width. Scape much shorter than the leaves, slender, erect, minutely bracteate, bearing at its apex 3 to 7 flowers in an umbel. Flowers bright yellow throughout with slight ocherous tinge here and there. Dorsal sepal free at its base from the lateral pair, very concave, vaulted over the column, ovate, shortly acuminate. The lateral pair much longer than the dorsal, linear lanceolate, partly coherent, the bases and apices free. Petals broadly ovate, acute. The margins of petals and sepals are teethed. Lip oblong, sub-acute, entire, fleshy, very concave near the base.

Cirrhopetalum caespitosum, Wall. ex Lindl (Bulbophyllum scabratum Rchb.f.)
Cirrhopetalum caespitosum Wall. ex Lindl (Bulbophyllum scabratum Rchb.f.)

The Pursuit

A very small plant, found specially on rocks attracts attention with its cluster growing nature. Found few clusters on rocks and on trees around a sub-tropical habitat. Identified as Cirrhopetalum caespitosum, Wall. ex Lindl (Bulbophyllum scabratum Rchb.f.) with its cluster growing property. Waited till the summer months to document it in bloom. The route through its habitat was used frequently by me for other surveys in the region, so at least visited the plant twice a week during the summer months. After seeing them in buds, the anxiety level to shoot them in bloom made my visiting frequency go up. However, I never took more tension on this particular species as there were a few clusters around that region. If I miss one in bloom I can zero on another one. It started blooming by the mid Summer and initially it seems the flowers are very small, so waited for a full grown cluster to bear healthy flowers and got this wonderful photograph.

Bulbophyllum spathulatam (Rolfe. ex E.W .Cooper) Seidenf.

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs narrowly ovoid 1 to 3 cm long, attached 2 to 4 cm apart on annulated naked thin rhizomes. Leaf solitary, fleshy, narrowly elliptic, obtuse or sub-acute, narrowed to the base, sessile, 4 to 7 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm in width. Scape stout, much shorter than the leaves, the peduncle also very short, with 5 to 8 flowers in umbel, flowers dorsally compressed. Rose red with spots of darker tints with leathery texture, will open only for a day (rather few hours only). Dorsal sepal broadly ovate, apiculate, concave and pressed to the column, lateral sepals much longer than the dorsal, oblong, obtuse. Cohering by their inner edges to form a sub-panduriform blade, slightly bifid at the apex. Petals oblong, nearly as long as the dorsal sepal, slightly falcate, obtuse. Lip oblong, entire, sub-acute, the base dilated, the upper surface slightly concave. The whole plant is of a coppery hue.

Cirrhopetalum bootanense, Hook
Bulbophyllum spathulatam (Rolfe. ex E.W. Cooper) Seidenf.

The Pursuit

A plant which will be in bloom for hardly an hour, during that short span all the flowers from each bulb open and close together. As the whole plant is of a coppery hue it is very easy to distinguish it from others. I got lots of them on tall trees from a tropical valley two years ago. It blooms in the peak summer days. I missed the first year, as it bloomed little earlier in the month than expected. Noted the days and waited for the next year. In 2012, I was there at the right time with buds about to bloom. As the crossing of the river and the trek to the spot take a few hours everyday, it was decided to camp at the site to get the perfect photograph. Camped there for three days, on the third day a few of the flowers bloomed at sunrise and could documented them very nicely. The opening of the flowers is also very interesting, the dorsal sepal just rises a little and the petals spread a little, the lip rises hardly half a cm. Everything happens within 5 to 10 minutes and the flower closes in less than an hour. By the time we reach the tree top, the show is finished!!!! So I sat on the tree top in the early morning hours to get the perfect shot.

Calanthe brevicornu Lindl.

Terrestrial. The whole plant is less than 15 to 20 cm in height. Pseudo-bulbs small, ovoid, pointed, arranged very closely. Pseudo stem 5 to 7 cm, with wide sheaths. Leaves usually 3, very rarely 5, sub-equal, oblong elliptic, shortly acuminate, tapered to the wide sheathing base, 12 to 20 cm long and 4 to 7 cm in width. Peduncle and raceme longer than the leaves, former with a few scattered short bracts; later around 15 to 20 cm long, with scattered flowers. Flowers beautiful, dull red to brownish red, with the base of sepals and petals flushed with white, both sepals and petals white veined (usually three), lip slightly pale in colour compared to sepal and petals with distinct white margins throughout. The mouth of the spur is lined with retroflexed hairs. Sepals sub-equal, oblong-lanceolate, acute and spreading. Petals slightly shorter and narrower than the sepals, lanceolate. Lip attached to the lower half of the column, 3-lobed, and with a short, blunt straight spur.

Calanthe brevicornu, Lindl
Calanthe brevicornu Lindl.

The Pursuit

Easy to locate from the forests, as it appears and blooms before the monsoon showers which make the forest floor fully covered with undergrowths. I found a few of this species in the end of April, while on a routine survey to the forest. However, in the initial stages, confusion prevailed with correct identification, as few Calanthes of the region are look alikes. Repeated visits were needed to the region to find them in bloom, as the flowers are quite larger the blooming also takes a longer time. Finally it bloomed, one by one from the bottom providing an opportunity to photograph a new flower every other day. To be frank, the sepals, petals and lip of this species are spreading and as well as flat, hence not much difficulty to get a sharp photograph like the one here.

Bulbophyllum triste Reichb.

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs turbinate with umbonate apices arranged at 1 to 3 cm apart on very thin naked rhizomes. Leaves two, sub-membranous, flaccid, narrowly oblong, tapering on both sides – to the acute apex and to the sub-sessile base, 5 to 8 cm long and 1.5 to 2 cm broad. Leaf less during flowering. Scape 6 to 8 cm long, the peduncle slender, erect with a few filiform bracteoles, twice as long as the drooping densely flowered raceme. Sepals purple with greenish margins. Dorsal sepal oblong, ovate blunt, concave. The lateral pair slightly longer, cohering at the tips and with margins incurved. Petals purple, almost triangular, mid nerved, much shorter than the sepals. Lip brownish red with a very narrow yellowish margin, stipitate, oblong-lanceolate. The flowers are of an unpleasant odour.

Bulbophyllum triste, Reichb.
Bulbophyllum triste Reichb.

The Pursuit

The authors, Sir George King and Robert Pantling, wrote that, the collection of the species by them were the first of its kind from the region. Previously it was believed to be a native of Burma only. This doubled my interest to find the species from the region again. Its pseudo-bulb is something unusual in comparison to other Bulbophyllums. Keeping this in mind that, I searched hard for the species, especially in the tropical valleys but in vain. However, in the mid February of 2012, I stumbled up on a few leaf less pseudo-bulbs atop a tall tree near the valley. However, the bulbs were not the same as described by Sir George King and Robert Pantling in their book. Still I kept hope in those bulbs as Bulbophyllum triste, Reichb. However, the summer heat produced a forest fire and the whole area got burnt down. It was understood that the same species may be somewhere around also. The tropical torrid atmosphere coupled with windless river valleys stand as a big obstacle to do repeated tree climbings in that area. But luck was in my favour. One of my friend from the village while collecting leaves for his cattle flock found just one pseudo-bulb with a rather unusual long flower. He informed me over phone and next day I visited the place to see an unusually long raceme in full bloom. Documented it the best way I could.