SEPTEMBER ORCHID OF THE MONTH:
By JAMES TABABA
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
Paphiopedilum, commonly known as the lady’s slipper orchid, is a fascinating group of plants included in the Appendix I list of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Being classified under CITES Appendix I means it is a critically endangered plant species subject to stringent international trade regulations that aim to safeguard its survival and prevent further decline. Paphiopedilum orchids are highly regarded in the horticultural world due to their multifloral nature, producing many flowers on a single stem. Orchid collectors and enthusiasts find them appealing because of their texture, elegance, and diverse range of colors which include purple, brown, green, yellow, and white. Their flowers resemble a lady’s slipper, characterized by bulbous labellum, elongated petals, prominent dorsal sepals, and fused lateral sepals. NATURAL HABITAT AND GROWING CONDITIONS In the Philippines, the most prevalent type is the Paphiopedilum philippinense, which is found extensively in the country and extends to Borneo. These beautiful orchids are native to the Philippines, where two-thirds of the species are endemic, existing only within the country’s borders. Paphiopedilum philippinense has been observed growing on limestone in coastal areas. The porous nature of limestone allows the roots to permeate and store water, making it the preferred growing medium for these orchids. Despite being called “ground orchids,” Paphiopedilum does not grow directly in soil but rather on detritus or decaying vegetation found on the forest floor. In some instances, they can be seen growing on tree branches. Cultivating Paphiopedilum can be challenging, especially when taken outside their natural habitat. Laboratory-grown Paphiopedilum orchids tend to be easier to grow than those taken from the wild, as they have already been selected and acclimated to controlled conditions. For successful cultivation, it is essential to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible.