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

Epiphytic. Pseudo-bulbs arranged close together, in some instance slightly apart also, broadly ovoid, between 1.5 to 3 cm long. Rhizome stout. Leaf 7 to 12 cm long, oblong to lanceolate, narrowed at the base into a channelled sheathing bract. The raceme longer than the peduncle, decurved with a stouter rachis. Flowers in distance of 1 to 3 cm. Sepals sub-equal, narrowly lanceolate. Petals smaller than the sepals, orbicular, fleshy. Lip longer than the sepals, very mobile in nature, lanceolate with a truncate auricled base, broadly fimbriate-fringed except at the base.

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

The Pursuit

After Sir George King and Robert Pantling’s monumental work, “The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas”, published in the year 1898, several publications by various authors on orchids came up. A lot of research works got the descriptions and study details of this species also. However, no photographs were made available by any of the other authors, pointing to the conclusion that this plant was not located by anyone from the wild. Sir George King and Robert Pantling mentioned August and September as its blooming time. The same was noted by all other authors who wrote about this species. After a lot of efforts I located the plant, just a few, from the region. I visited the plant several times during the months of June, July and August thinking it will bloom in those months. However, no flowers were found during those months. Then I realisied the fact that the blooming time mentioned by Sir George King and Robert Pantling may be wrong and all others followed the mistake. So decided to follow the plant round the year, visited the region once in every ten days. After a long wait, the racemes started appearing in the month of November and finally it bloomed after the winter in the first week of March. Later I got another confirmation of the blooming of the species from Meghalaya, there also it bloomed in the month of March, thus concluding to the fact that a mistake had cropped up with the monumental work. The most interesting fact is that a lot of eminent researchers followed the “mistake” by mentioning the blooming time as August and September in their publications and findings. This single incidence proves the need to study each and every species in their natural habitat before bringing out publications.