Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs cylindric, very small, 0.5 cm to 1.25 cm long and less than 0.5 cm in diameter, extending into a narrow stem of very short length. Leaves 2 to 5, 2 to 4 cm in length and less than 1 cm in width, linear oblong, obliquely notched at the apex. Raceme terminal, 3 to 5 cm in length and with 3 to 7 small flowers. Flowers hardly 2 cm across, sepals and petals pale green with purplish red nerves, lip purplish red with pale green margins. Sepals lanceolate with the lateral pair longer and wider than the dorsal. Petals shorter than the petals, oblong. Lip elliptic, decurved from base, edges entire, apex sub-acute.
The plants of this species are very small with thin stems and narrow leaves. In the Eastern Himalayas it is seen growing around sub-alpine regions only. I was so eager to see this plant and was searching it for more than three years. It blooms along with the start of monsoon season. Due to the rains the forest floors will be full of undergrowths and leeches, this makes it very difficult to work in sub-alpine forests. All the small trees will be full of fresh leaves and finding a small epiphytic plant from those thick forested terrains will be very difficult. For a whole week I was searching for this plant on various locations. The thick forest floor prevented intrusion deep inside and I could not locate the species. I had decided to search this species where the undergrowth may not be so dense. Suddenly I spotted some area on the hill slope which was washed away due to a landslide of the previous monsoon. The landslide had taken away all the undergrowths and left the slope with a few trees only. I had an intuition that this species will be there on those trees. Slowly and carefully I climbed down the slope and searched the first tree. Unfortunately there was nothing, not even a small plant, on any of its branches. Tried the next 4 trees, the result was the same. Again I climbed down and searched more than 10 to 15 trees and found 7 plants of this species. The plants were very small and without any buds. It took several risky and dangerous treks on that slope for another five weeks to see those plants in bloom and produced this wonderful photograph.
Epiphyte. Stems erect, 10 to 18 cm long and 1 to 2 cm in cross section, cylindrical, slightly narrowed to the base. Leaves alternate, sessile, oblong, the apex notched, 5 to 8 cm long and 1 to 2 cm in width. Flowers large, sepal and petals pure white, lip white with an orbicular yellow marking on its disc extended to the base in the form of a ridge. Sepals very narrow, oblong-lanceolate, acute, spreading, the lateral ones very slightly keeled. Petals much larger than the petals, sub-orbicular. Lip broadly obovate, side lobes indistinct, terminal lobe dilated, apex very broad.
This species bears the largest flowers of all Dendrobiums of the region and the flowers are very attractive too. Sir. Joseph Dalton Hooker in his iconic work, “The Flora of British India” noted about three varieties of this species. I never came across this species on any of my flower hunts. The region were I lived was famous for many flower nurseries and got a good collection of many species. Still, this species remained missing, with no information available with anyone about its habitats, other than, “At the base of Sikkim-Himalayas” noted by Sir. George King and Robert Pantling. The flowering season was mentioned as May, in their monumental work on orchids. With the eagerness to see this species in bloom I planned my surveys to the plains of the Himalayas in the early summer days. The plains are generally of active Tea estates, which produces thousands of tons of Tea every year. The estates are full of activities with thousands and thousands of workers involved everyday. They got their own hospitals, schools, accommodations, roads, shopping centers etc. However, as a general rule they don’t cut any trees and those trees host a lot of tropical epiphytic orchids also. I decided to concentrate on those trees inside the estates for this species. Every day I came across a lot of workers and showed them the drawings of this species, to ascertain if anybody had come across this plant. Working on those plains under the open sky in the summer months of March and April was a very tiring affair. Moreover, my base station was at an altitude about 4000 ft, where the climate was very moderate and comfortable. Every day in a matter of 3 hrs drive I am in the plains where the temperature soars above 40C, which was like stepping inside a hot furnace. However, the desire to find this plant and a feeling that I will get this species in that season itself made me visit various estates in the plains continuously for several days. Every day I returned with no trace of this species but with many admirers, who were so happy to know about my passion. One day I came to know about a former manager of a tea estate who got a good collection of tropical orchids of the area. A visit to his home made be so happy, he had around 140 tropical orchids in his garden, a few of them were in full bloom also. However, my purpose of visit was not fulfilled, the species I am looking for was not found there. I enquired with him about the species I am looking for. He was so happy with my work and explained to me about all those species he had seen and collected from the region, including the one I was looking for. He was also having that species till few years back, it died because of some reason. But, he helped with sufficient information about the place from where his gardener brought it some 30 years back. The next day I started my new search in the area he mentioned. Most of the trees there were more than 50 to 60 years old, so I was sure I will find the plant I am looking for. After three continuous days of survey with the help of a few friends we found 7 plants of this species, 3 in buds. It was like the plants were waiting for me. All the plants were on the sides of tall trees at around 15 to 20 ft height. Climbed up those trees with buds to ascertain the identity and the time required for the buds to bloom. Waited for 11 days to see the first flower in bloom. My vehicle was sent to bring the former manager to that place, as I wished he should also be part of the documentation process. Without his advice, I might not have surveyed those areas and would have never seen the species also. Everything was perfect, the climb, the wind, the placing of flashes etc and produced a wonderful photograph of the species. Those days were so hot, I spend more money on buying drinking water for me than to the fuel for my vehicle!!!.
Epiphyte with comparatively large sized cylindric, smooth pseudo-bulbs, sheathed at the base, long as 6 to 13 cm and 4 to 6 cm in diameter. Bulbs are attached at a distance more than 4 cm apart on very stout sheathed rhizomes. Leaves in pairs, slightly coriaceous, elliptic oblong, acute, narrowed at the base to a long petiole. Leaves as long as 15 to 25 cm and 2.5 to 4 cm in width. Peduncle arising between the leaves from the apex of the adult bulbs, rather short or of the same size of the leaves, naked on the lower portion, with many closely arranged imbricate sheaths just below the raceme. Raceme 7 to 10 cm long, distichous, many flowered. Flowers 2 to 4 cm across, sepals and petals pale ochraceous, the lip white, the middle lobe with a broad wide spot of yellow spread across and with two parallel purple streaks. The flowers are of an unpleasant smell. Sepals sub-equal, oblong, sub-acute, spreading, three veined. Petals very narrowed, slightly longer than the petals, sub-acute, single veined. Lip elongate, the lower part oblong and with narrow entire side lobes, separated from the sub-orbicular anterior lobe by an erose edged sinus; anterior lobe irregularly erose, undulate, obtuse; the disc with two erose-crenulate lamellae from the base to almost apex.
A sub-tropical species, which blooms along with the summer rains. Its large pseudo-bulbs and long leaves in pair draws attention even to casual plant hunters not to mention about explorers like me. I spotted this plant long back, but missed it in bloom for 3 years in a row. Determined to photograph it in bloom, I planned my trip to the region in the year 2012. The location was a place across a deep valley however the distance to be covered to reach there through the winding road was not less than 18 km. The road was also not motorable in any way for light vehicles. We were forced to hire a four-wheel drive vehicle at a very high price. The “hiring negotiations” took quite some time and delayed our journey till noon. The “expert” driver of the vehicle mis-calculated a muddy portion of the drive at the “9th mile curve” and got his precious asset stuck in knee deep mud. All his expertise went in vain and we were forced to have a long walk that afternoon with looming dark clouds over the hills. The location of the flowers was more than 6 km away and uphill. No option was left with us other than trekking. Reached the spot with much difficulty around 4 PM with blessings from the sky in the form of a heavy shower. Waited inside a makeshift shed for the rains to stop. The dense jungle coupled with cloudy skies made the area darker much before the sunset. I rushed to climb up the tree and photograph the flowers. The entire process took hardly 40 minutes to get a beautiful photograph like this. By the time I finished my task, it was pitch dark and with the help of my “Kathmandu” head lamp, we started the journey back. By the time we reached our stranded vehicle, its driver had disappeared leaving the vehicle back. To be frank, I really enjoyed that whole night walk, back to the base camp and to my surprise there was not a drop of rain that whole night!!!