Bulbophyllum odoratissimum (Sm.) Lindl. ex Wall.

The Plant

Epiphyte, but grows as lithophyte also. Pseudo-bulb sub-cylindric, smooth, 1.5 to 2 cm long and less than 1 cm in diameter, attached to a woody branched rhizome 4 to 7 cm apart. Leaf oblong, narrowing to the base, sessile, 4 to 7 cm long and 1.5 cm in width, slightly decurved at the apex. Flowers small, capitate, on a scape arising from the base of the pseudo-bulbs, with 2 to 3 lanceolate clasping sheaths, 4 to 6 cm long. Floral bracts longer than the pedicellate ovary.

The Flower

Flowers 1 to 1.5 cm across. Sepals sub-equal, lanceolate with broad base, apex varying – terete to pointed. Dorsal smaller than the lateral, diagonally arching; lateral spreading on the  base flowers, the rest arranged forward parallel to the lip. Petals smaller than the lip, ovate. Lip fleshy, curved, with a narrow lanceolate ridge running from the base to almost the mid of its disc, margins of the lip as well as the ridge with fine hairs. Sweet scented.

Sepals and petals white to pale creamy. Lip orange red, its margins as well as the ridge margins on its disc are white. Floral bracts pale cream and translucent, scape green.

Bulbophyllum odoratissimum, (Sm.) Lindl. ex Wall.
Bulbophyllum odoratissimum (Sm.) Lindl. ex Wall.

The Pursuit

A very interesting plant with sweet scented beautiful flowers. As it has a huge altitudinal range, it can be easily located from many places of the region.

I too located it without much difficulty, but it took three flowering seasons to produce a photograph of my desire. During its flowering season in the first two years, I was working in the Alpine zone and my visit to the lower altitudes were very seldom. Seven times I tried to reach to this species during its flowering time, but failed due to various reasons. Twice I was there when it was in full bloom, but the monsoon rains prevented me from producing perfect pictures.

In 2013, as I was finishing all undocumented and already discovered species, I took special efforts to document this. Its flowers are very small and its round flower head were not documented in detail by anyone. Its flower bracts are translucent; also there is a fine white margin on its lip and disc. Even though its flowers are widely documented because of its availability in nurseries, homes and roadsides all over the region, none produced the details needed for further studies and references. Hence, I put extra efforts to document those details in that season. The flowers I selected were hardly 3 to 5 ft high from the ground level. I sat comfortably on a chair, which is always loaded in our vehicle, arranged multiple flashes on many monopods and documented the flowers. To make sure all details were captured, I transferred the photographs to the laptop and checked it there itself. It was a fulfilling moment to see such details documented.


King, G. & Pantling, R. (1898). The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas. Ann. Roy. Bot. Garden. (Calcutta). Bulbophyllum odoratissimum Lindl., Page no 79 – 80.