Bulbophyllum parviflorum C. S. P. Parish & Rchb.f.

The Plant

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulb small, less than 1.5cm across, turbinate and depressed, attached to a thick, branching rhizome more than 4 to 6 cm apart; rhizome clothed and with numerous roots arising in intervals. Leaf narrowly oblong, acute, narrowed to a short petiole, 5 to 8 cm long and 1.5 cm in width. Flowers small, in scape arising from the older bulbs, decurved. Peduncle as long as the racemes, laxly arranged.

The Flower

Flowers 1 to 1.5 cm across, pedicellate. Sepals equal, broadly lanceolate and acuminate, dorsal diagonally erect, lateral spreading. Petals very small, lanceolate with ciliolate margins. Lip as long as the sepals, oblong, decurved, with ciliolate margins and a channel like cut at the base. Floral bract very small.

Sepals various shades of pale pink to rose, its outer surface with many irregular dots of dark pink at its base. Petals and lip creamy white to creamy pink. Floral bracts pale green.

Bulbophyllum parviflorum, C. S. P. Parish & Rchb.f.
Bulbophyllum parviflorum C. S. P. Parish & Rchb.f.

The Pursuit

The only Bulbophyllum species from the region, which has an unusually depressed bulb. This species covers the host trees, criss-crossing its trunk and branches with thousands and thousands of its plants, attached to the trunk as well as hanging out. As such it can be spotted from a mile away and recognized easily because of its pseudo-bulb’s shape. The same way, I too spotted it from agood distance on a routine survey in the monsoon months. With enough moisture and wetness due to regular rains, the plant was producing numerous new young leaves. Even though an individual specimen is very small in size, the entire growth covered the huge host tree leaving no room. Prior to that find, I had seen the species only from the drawings of Pantling. Hence, it was a joyous moment for me to see the unusually shaped pseudo-bulbs and to study it. The fact that the plant blooms in the early winter days made me take necessary notes and mark it for later observations.

In the early winter days I visited the location to examine the plant and observed many scape arising. After a week I made my second visit, but was disappointed to see them still in buds. On my third visit I found many of them in bloom. Then I observed the small hairy margins on its petals and lips (Even though King & Pantling had mentioned about this in detail, I had missed to register it). I had developed some lighting techniques to document minute hairy outgrowths in flowers and the technique had enabled me to produce fantastic results. Hence I thought of documenting this flower with those lighting techniques. However, on that particular day I was not carrying those lighting instruments. So one more visit was needed to finish this documentation. The next day I was forced to be in my camp house itself due to a local strike. On the third day, I went with all necessary equipment and produced this amazing photograph of the species with its minute hairs on its petals and lips.


Bulbophyllum thomsoni Hook., Page no 83 – 84 of The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas by Sir. George King and Robert Pantling (1898).