Dendrobium crumenatum is locally known as Pigeon, Dove, Sparrow,Purse-Shaped orchid. This orchid is called White Sanggumay in some parts of General Nakar, Quezon province. Sometimes, they are also called One- day orchid since they only bloom early part of the morning and close its flowers by late afternoon.
This orchid species is one of the first orchid species described by Olof Peter Swartz a Swedish botanist and taxonomist in (1799). This is under the section “Crumenata“. The center of distribution is in the island of Borneo with at least 25 species.
The orchid had leaves on a sheathing base and pseudobulbs or stems which are fleshy for 1 to 3 internodes only. Species are mostly lowland.
The characteristics of this section are the flowers are mostly fugacious, bloom several times of the year and triggered by sudden drop or change in temperatures.
pigeon or dove orchid naturalized on Christmas palm
This type of orchid species is one of the most commonly grown orchids in any parts of the country. The flowers look like dove , pigeon or sparrow in flight when this orchid is in bloom, hence its common name.
It was very hot during the last part of November, then a sudden downpour of rain which may have triggered the blooming of this orchid species.
Some neighbors do not like growing this type of orchid, since the flowers are fugacious and would only last 1 day. When grown en mass, they can be a spectacle especially when the entire host tree would be covered by their fragrant white blooms.
Dendrobium crumenatum with seed pods
Some people believes that these orchid bring good fortune and warding off unseen spirits especially when grown near the entrance or main door. Especially those in Laguna, Quezon, Bicol and Samar provinces.
The side lobes are erect and the middle lobe is rounded with five yellow ridges. Flowering is sporadic but is triggered nine days after a sudden drop in temperature normally triggered by sudden change of temperatures. This flowers several times a year. This clump is observe to bloom at least 3 to 5 times a year.
The flowers are naturally pollinated by carpenter bees, honey bees (Apis cerana) and wasps which are common within the locality.
This orchid species used to be planted in almost every homes within the subdivision until few years ago, when some of the older neighbors grew tried of growing this type of orchid species. Some would prefer Dendrobium or Vanda hybrids which had larger flowers and can last for several days or even weeks.
Now, only few homes had these types of orchid species. But what still remains are still exciting to behold especially when they are in bloom.
It is found in parts of India, Southern China, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia,Taiwan,Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Christmas Island and Philippines.
In the Philippines, This is reported in almost all the provinces and have been found in many coastal towns and coconut plantations. This orchid can be found growing along mangroves and coastal areas up to more than 700 meters in elevation.
It is reportedly naturalized in Guam,Northern Marianas, Fiji, Hawaii,West Indies, Puerto Rico and even parts of Florida.
Ethono-botanical Uses and Importance
Medicinal: The leaf poultice applied to pimples and boils by Malays and Indonesians. Juice from swollen pseudo bulbs used as ear drops to treat earache. Common name Daun Sepulih Tulang (Bone Restoring Leaf) suggests use as treatment for bone-related ailments.
Some Aeta communities in the Philippines would also use its leaves to cure indigestion.
In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the stems the pounded and boiled for several minutes then the resulting concoctions are use to remove impurities from the blood.
Products: Stem fibers used to make braiding materials for hats, hand bracelets and baskets in Philippines.
Cultural: Planted near entrance of house in some Malaysian states and parts of the Philippines as a good-luck orchid to ward off evil spirits from entering house.
Economic: They are also commonly sold in the country for landscaping and decorations in almost all garden centers and weekend markets.
Status: This is one of the common orchid sold in the market.
Modus Operandi by Unscrupulous Seller and Ambulant Vendors
Photo courtesy : Ms. Surya Namaskar
Some unscrupulous ambulant orchid vendor and orchid sellers would sometimes insert Dendrobium flowers or Vanda flowers to the stems of this orchid just to increase the value of the orchid by at least 2 or 3 fold.
Unsuspecting buyers or those unfamiliar with this orchid may not suspect about being duped by the seller. The flowers in the above photo were dyed with different colors creating a new artificial hybrid ( with interesting colors) . This is a common deception to lure buyers and sell the orchid at higher price. The practice started in the late 1970’s and still goes on.
Lack of police enforcement would only lead ambulant vendors to ply their trade from one place to another.
Sources, References and Bibliography:
1.) A Guide to the Dendrobium of the Philippines Cootes and Tiong 2015, page 48
2.) Personal communication with growers and buyers
3.) FB Orchid and Plant Lovers of the Philippines