Coelogyne stricta (D.Don) Schltr. – the variety form.

A look alike of the species plant. However, not found as common as it. The only notable difference is in the size of the pseudo-bulb and in the colour of the flowers. The bulbs of this variety are comparatively smaller than that of the species ones, and also the flowers are generally white to pale greenish white. Sepals are pale greenish white and petals pure white, rest of the flowers is as the species itself with the unpleasant odour also.

Coelogyne elata, Lindl (Coelogyne stricta, (D Don) Schltr
Coelogyne elata Lindl (Coelogyne stricta (D Don) Schltr.)

The Pursuit

Never ever heard of the white coloured Coelogyne elata Lindl (Coelogyne stricta (D Don) Schltr.So after documented the species, I had marked on the page of my reference book as “done” (a usual practice after finishing work on each species). However, while on a search to the same area, where I found the species, we found a few plants of this variety in buds which are unusually pale in colour. The unusual colouration of the buds caught my attention and I decided to have a comparative study of those buds with the species buds which produced the ochraceous flowers. To my bad luck I was not able to find any ochraceous ones in buds. So I was totally depended on the photographs from my collection. It was obvious that these pale coloured buds are rather unusual. Then the difference in the bulbs are also came to my notice. Out of curiosity I decided to cancel all the trips in the coming days and wait till the pale buds open up. On the sixth day, I still remember it being a bright sunny morning, with a clear view of the Lord, the mighty Kanchenjunga. On that day I was a able to have this wonderful photograph. Yes, it is a variety, with white to greenish white flowers.

Coelogyne stricta (D.Don) Schltr.

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.

Coelogyne elata, Lindl (Coelogyne stricta (D Don) Schltr
Coelogyne elata Lindl (Coelogyne stricta (D Don) Schltr).

The Pursuit

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!!!