Pteroceras longicalcareum Blooming in Our Backyard

Quezon City – Philippines

Pteroceras longicalcareum ( Ames and Rolfe ) Garay

Hi , to all orchid hobbyists around the world! It had been a while since i have posted a blooming orchids in our backyard. It was raining for the past 1 week here in our place. I was rewarded with a beautiful blooms of one of the most unappreciated native orchids in the country.

Most orchid hobbyists and old timers in orchid growing would prefer the large and long lasting blooms of Vanda, Dendrobium and Cattleya hybrids. BUT I must say , one of the few orchid growers that prefer growing native species.

While inspecting for any damage caused by the recent monsoon rains which affects most of the country , I saw the Pteroceras longicalcareum currently in bloom in our backyard . This used to be classified under a different genus –Sarcochilus until few years ago when the Sarcochilus genus is confined to Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Pteroceras longicalcareum is also called Long -Spur Orchid

Origin of the Name:

This orchid species was featured on page 206 of Philippine Orchids by Reg S. Davis and Ms. Mona Lisa Steiner under the genus Sarcochilus.The genus is confined in Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.

The book since then had undergone 2 reprint – The first one was in 1952 then1982 edition.  This genus was then re-classified in the late 1970’s by world’s leading orchid expert and botanists.

The record derives from WCSP (data supplied on 2012-03-23) which reports it as an accepted name (record 170399) with original publication details: Bot. Mus. Leafl. 23: 193 1972.

The Long-Spur Pteroceras [refers to the midlobe of the labellum]. Hence it is commonly called long-spur orchid by some orchid growers.

The genus had about 30 recorded species found in  India , Indochina ,  Southeast Asia and Indonesia some of the species are quite widespread from sea level to around 800- 1,500 meters in elevation.

Habitat:

This orchid is endemic to the Philippines and is found in lowland to mid- level elevation at around 1,000 meters . The plant ranges from 20-35 cm, branching out, pendulous growing and spike can reach up to more than 1 meter, from where it blooms every 3-4 months or so, until it turns brown and dried up.

Sometimes , orchid peddlers and native plant sellers would sometimes call them native Phalaenopsis or mahabang dila orchids.  Even without blooms, These native orchids are highly ornamental . But most of the orchids flowers are fugacious  ( lasting only for several hours ) to just 1 or 2 days at most in some species.

Cultivation and Care:

I have first encountered a living orchid when my aunt gave me a few pieces from a big clump she acquired from Bicol ( Sorsogon province) . It was mounted on a living Dracena fragans together with some live Asplenium nidus – ferns .  It was growing very lush and blooms several times a year until late early 1997 when the disastrous El Niño killed most of my living orchids . I again re-acquired a small clump about 2 years ago at the  Centris Sunday market . This is not as common as Pteroceras pallidum which is widespread over Southeast Asian countries .

It is also best to provide some pasdak , fern roots around its root area .  It prefers living tree such as caimito, palms , mango trees, coconut palms , guava as host trees.

Fertilization

I would fertilize the orchid in a diluted water soluble fertilizer 20N-20P-20K with trace elements once a week . Sometimes alternating it with high potassium and phosphorus based water soluble fertilizer once in a while.

Dendrobium aphyllum and Dendrobium anosmum growing on a Macarthur palm ( Ptychosperma macarthurii)

It is a blessing for some orchid species like Dendrobium aphyllum and Dendrobium anosmum ( commonly  called sanggumays, salome , latigo ) – It is their growing season , Majority of the orchids do not like rains which drench them , without air circulation fungi and other water borne diseases may affect the growing orchids.

References:

Malesian Orchid Journal Vol 5 2010

Flora Malesiana Orchids of the Philippines Vol I Agoo, Shuiteman and de Vogel 2003 

Philippine Orchids by Reg S. Davis and Mona Liza Steiner , page 204 to 208 , 1951

Website: http://www.orchidspecies.com/pterlongicalcareum.htm

 Until my next post !

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