Dendrobium densiflorum Wall.

Epiphyte. Stems erect, long as 20 to 45 cm, clavate, with swollen nodes and four angled. Leaves 4 to 6 from the apex of the stem only, oblong-lanceolate, 6 to 10 cm long and 2 to 4 cm in width, acute, slightly narrowed to the base. Flowers crowded, in long pendulous racemose of 10 to 25 cm, sometimes even more, from the apex of the stem. Sepals and petals pale bright yellow, lip is bright orange yellow with paler margins. Sepals ovate-elliptic, obtuse. Petals broader than the sepals, ovate-orbicular. Lip orbicular-rhomboid, basal half convolute, apical half spreading, its upper surface hairy and with fringed margins.

Dendrobium densiflorum, Wall
Dendrobium densiflorum Wall

The Pursuit

On arrival of spring, all the houses of the region, irrespective of tropical valleys or hills, is full of this attractive bright yellow flowers of the species. The local population has widely collected the species from its habitats and planted it in their homes. It is observed that the species bears healthy flowers when planted in pots. Luckily because of its huge population, it still survives in the wild, even though its numbers are alarmingly reduced every year. Only a couple of orchid species of the region got the “club shaped” erect stems, hence this species attracts attention of all plant hunters. If it is in bloom, the same can be spotted a mile away. I had spotted a few good population of this plant from various region and observed that the colouration of the lip varies from the descriptions of Sir. George King and Robert Pantling. They described the lip as, “orange-yellow colour, paler towards the margins”. Even though widely photographed by many, no photographs showed the colour variations on its lips. Determined to try my micro lighting experience, I was looking for flowers with the exact lip descriptions. Finally found the same from an intermediate altitude, between the tropical valleys and sub-tropical region, a good population of the species on tall trees on a densely wooded valley. The previous year I had stayed in the area for more than 40 days, so got a good number of friends there. With a huge number of people ready to help, I proceeded in the morning to the location. By the time I changed my trekking boots and trousers, some of them were already up the 60 ft tall trees. When more and more people are there to help, things will go very smooth. With great ease I was also up the tree in no time. Photographed a very long racemose, after a few shots only I observed that its lip is very hairy and got a lot of dust particles, particularly small ashes (may be from the remains of forest fires) on it. It was so disappointing to have a long day work of many go in vain. I explained to my friends that those type of photographs are of no use, we need fresh flowers. Ideas came in, in the form of, “taking a plant home”, “covering the buds” etc. I was determined to wait for another racemose to bloom and shoot the flower in the early hours of its bloom. Spotted a healthy plant with a long racemose. Every day visited the spot with the entire “army” with more and more joining each day and finally on the sixth day it was in full bloom, that also, the whole buds of the racemose was in bloom. The flowers were also of the same descriptions of the referral book. As I was there early in the morning, the flowers were void of any dust. Spent considerable time up the tree with many others to make this beautiful photograph of the most photographed species. While back in the village, an old man was asking, the purpose of this much difficulty I made to photograph the flower when he got it in plenty in his house!!!.