Color Forms of Cymbidium Finlaysonianum and Arrival of Rainy Season

There were some backyard growers of Cymbidium finlaysonianum who posted their blooming orchids in different Fb group and social media sites since late May 2020.

We were again rewarded with the blooming of Cymbidium finlaysonianum clumps which were mounted in living Manila Palm (Adonidia merrillii) for several decades. The first specimen clump bloomed late April 2020.

Color Forms of Cymbidium finlaysonianum

One can spot the different color forms of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum from the actual orchid grown and photographed by the owners.  This also coincide with the blooming season of this species.

It was last June 11 when PAG-ASA , the local weather bureau officially declared the start of the rainy season in the western part of the country.  This marks the transition to hot humid dry season to the wet season. The transition happened when we experience more rain showers in April and May which signals the onset of the transition period.


The first specimen Cymbidium finlaysonianum started to send spike late April with 20 flowers and then another spike with 23 flowers bloomed within two week interval.


pale yellow form ( first inflorescence) 

This is the larger clump and having pale yellowish flower. The blooming season was late April to early part of May 2020.


pale yellow form ( second inflorescence)

The orchid species had been growing in our garden for at least 30 years. Another clump with smaller more compact leaves and smaller inflorescence developed on the last week of May and the bloom lasted only until June 8. Before the last flower wilted because of the intense heat, Another much longer inflorescence develop with at least 15 flowers.


Cymbidium finlaysonianum ( second clump with smaller flowers and compact growth)

We also noticed that the Davallia fern or rabbit foot fern had also grown luxuriantly. With a combination of slow release fertilize attached to base of the clump, weekly weakly regimen of fertilization program can also help boost the growth of both the orchid and fern. Some local growers would also plant bird’s nest fern near the orchid, which can enhance the aesthetic beauty of the mounted orchid.


A neighbor sometimes would collect small amount of cow dung ( manure) dry them for at least 3 to 4 months in semi-shade. She would apply it once in a while in their Cymbidium finlaysonianum especially during its growing period.


Cymbidium finlaysonianum with reddish lip grown in Morong, Rizal province ( photo courtesy of Mr. Gelo T. DL)

An FB friend from Morong, Rizal province posted his wonderful specimen clump of Cymbidium finlaysonianum which had more reddish lip and darker yellowish flowers compared to the ordinary clone. He told me that it was rescued from his grandmother’s ancestral house and could be at least 30 or so years old.


Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown by Mrs. Anita Are

Another backyard grower and lifetime member of the Philippine Orchid Society is Ms. Anita Arcebal Are who gladly shared her specimen sized Cymbidium finlaysonianum growing in a living tree within her garden for several decades in Baras, Rizal province.

A Cymbidium finlaysonianum variety flava  with pure white lip is grown by few growers. The orchid grows a little slow compared with ordinary forms.

Bibliographies and Sources:

Personal communication with growers like Ms. Anita Are, Mr. Gelo T. DL and Mrs. Fe Nanguil

The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 1 Quisumbing 1981; The Complete Writings on Philippine Orchids Vol 2 Quisumbing 1981 drawing

Second Print 1982, Manila pages, 86 to 91: Davis S. Reg and Steiner Mona Lisa: Philippine Orchids ” A detailed Treatment of Some One Hundred Native Species” printed by M& L Licudine Enterprises, Dongalo, Parañaque, Philippines 

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984
The Orchids of the Philippines Cootes 2001
Teo, Chris K. H. Cymbidium Pages, 44 to 49; Native Orchids of Peninsular Malaysia 1985, 2001, Times Media Private Unlimited.

Folk Tales and Economic Usage of Bird’s Nest Fern in the Philippines

There are many folk tales and economic usage of the bird’s nest fern which collectively refers to three or four kinds of fern species found in the archipelago.


Asplenium nidus grown on top of a big concrete vat (kawa)

Asplenium musifolium or Pakong Babae/ Pugad Lawin na Babae is one of the most common ferns in the market. The female one refers to the shape of the leaves. The Pakong babae has rounded leaftip in contrast to the more common Asplenium nidus or “Pakong Lalake” which has pointed leaf tip.

These are commonly in demand among landscapers and are planted en mass by ornamental plant farms.


Asplenium musifolium

These two kinds of ferns are commonly used in landscaping projects and added accents to big trees, manicured gardens or palms.

While another Philippine bird’s nest fern which is sometimes called Asplenium leytensis have leaf tip much broader and rounder in shape compared to Asplenium musifolium.


Drynaria quercifolia perch on top of an old rain tree / monkey pod tree (Albizia saman ) within Manila Chinese Cemetery

Some people refer Drynaria quercifolia is also referred to pakpak lawin, paypaymo or bird’s nest fern.

Folk Tales and Superstitious Beliefs

People in the bicol region would refer Asplenium nidus as Manalo/ Manalu. Some people believe that it brings wealth when place or planted near one’s entrance.  The light green leaves are symbol of money and positive energy.

Another tale is that it brings wealth to the owners, specially when grown lush and big.


Asplenium nidus and Dischidia ionantha ( Manaog ka Irog)

fern sellers would use the roots of Drynaria quercifolia then mount Asplenium nidus and Dischidia ionantha.  These are commonly sold as hanging plants.

Economic Importance


Asplenium nidus fronds for sale in Taiwan ( photo courtesy of Mr. Li Chen )

In Taiwan and parts of mainland China, Asplenium nidus fronds (It is pronounced shān sũ) are use for cooking.

The young fronds are typically cut into inch-long pieces, fried with garlic and chili peppers. Sometimes these are also sauteed with pieces of pork or beef meat.

There are also some reports in some parts of Batanes and northern Philippines, that locals would also eat the young fronds (although unverified).

Aside from incorporating these ferns into the landscape. Some growers mount orchids or other ferns together with Asplenium nidus– These create some sort of symbiotic relationship as fern roots provide additional moisture around the roots of orchids.

Fern roots can be sustainably harvested from time to time. Fern roots are gathered then boiled for about 15 to 20 minutes to remove the dirt and spores among other stuffs.

The fern roots are locally called (pasdak) can be use for planting media for orchids , hoyas and ferns.



DENR list Asplenium nidus ( Dapong Lalaki/ Pugad Lawin ), Asplenium vittaeforme and Drynaria quercifolia (Pakpak Lawin, Paypaymo, Paipaimo ) under local list of endangered species or vulnerable, It was even published at Wildlife Act R.A. 9147 as endangered species. When it is common species that is often encountered on big trees even within Metro Manila.

At one time, These fern species are so common, that even residents in Metro Manila would consider them as weeds. Some plant experts would disagree that these ferns must be excluded in the list, since these are quite common.

Note: Photos are taken by the author 


Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Wildlife Act R.A. No. 9147: pages 172-199

Ohlsen DJ, Perrie LR, Shepherd LD, Brownsey PJ, Bayly MJ (2015). “Phylogeny of the fern family Aspleniaceae in Australasia and the south-western Pacific”. Australian Systematic Botany. 27 (6): 355–71.

Olsen, Sue, Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns, Timber Press, Incorporated (March 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0881928194 and ISBN-13: 978-0881928198

Madulid, Dr. Domingo, A Pictorial Cyclopedia of Philippine Ornamental Plant, ( 1995) Book,Mark Inc. ( first edition): pages,21, 22 and 23.

Wee Yeow Chin, Ferns of the Tropics, July 1st 1998 by Timber Press








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