Summer Blooms of Fairy Sanggumay

Fairy, dainty, lesser sanggumay season usher in the start of the summer or dry season in the country. Scientific name is Dendrobium aphyllum. The flowering season of this species overlap with Dendrobium anosmum or sanggumay.

Origin of the Name

This orchid species is popularly called fairy sanggumay, dainty sanggumay, lesser sanggumay, salome, latigo among others.  It is more popularly called as fairy or dainty sanggumay because the flowers looks like miniature fairies with wings flying in one’s garden. Or dainty flowering orchids. The shape, size and smell is less pungent compared to Dendrobium anosmum. Hence, locals would also refer this as lesser sanggumay.

Chef Paulo Castillo Fuentes from Angono, Rizal province recounted that they bought 3 big clumps of Dendrobium aphyllum at a sunday market, divided some of the orchids then mounted them on live alagao/ alagaw tree. He hope that within 2 to 3 years time, these orchid can make an spectacular display of blooms.

He is also a cake, artist, event stylist, florist, plant and orchid enthusiast too.

Dendrobium aphyllum blooming at the farm of Mr. Mac Pagsoligan from Pangasinan.

Mr. Mac Pagsolingan started growing these types of orchid species several years ago. according to him, there were massive blooms last year.

He would grew them with charcoal, kakawate wood on plastic pots. Adding slow release fertilizer to boost the growth during the growing season and would also apply water soluble fertilizers.

Mr. Mac Pagsolingan 0917-5505473 at Centris Sunday Market plant section or try to visit his booth at the upcoming Grow and Show within Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center from April 26 to 28, 2019.

Orchid Range and Classification

Dendrobium aphyllum is one of the top 10 commonly cultivated native orchids in the country. This orchid species can be found from India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Hainan China, Assam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Andaman islands, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, parts of northern Australia and Philippines.

Dendrobium aphyllum more than 200 cm long

Classification

This orchid grows well in lowland and up to 1,800 meters in elevation. The species was discovered by Sir William Roxburgh in southern parts of  India and described in his book Plants of the Coast of Coromandel in 1795. During most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Dendrobium aphyllum was best known as Dendrobium pierardi or Dendrobium cucullatum which confuses a lot of orchid growers and even orchid experts.

This only came into general use after 1985, when the influential Danish botanist Gunnar Seidenfaden confirmed, albeit with some reservations, that this was the same species that people were growing as Dendrobium pierardii. Gradually, the name Dendrobium aphyllum has come back into use and is the accepted name. It will take at least a decade or so before local orchid growers would refer this as Dendrobium aphyllum.

There were two or three minor forms and an alba form of this species where reported in some parts of Asia. Some orchid experts in the Philippines thought that this orchid species got naturalized, since there were some local orchid growers who imported some orchids from Bangkok, Thailand in the 1960’s. This was resolved when local botanists and taxonomists have seen them growing wild in some parts of the country.

Dendrobium aphyllum with hundreds of flowers

This orchid species was not mentioned in the book authored by Mr. Andres Golamco ( Philippines’ Book on Orchids) when it was published in 1991. He must have omitted this wonderful species by not including this lovely species in the book.  This is a common species which are sold during orchid shows and found in many garden centers.

Plant is an epiphytic orchid and sometimes lithophytic with clustered, cane-like, overhanging to pendulous stems of 20cm to over 200 cm long.

This orchid species is also commonly sold in Sunday market in Quezon City and plant centers. IUCN classify this orchid species as LEAST Concern.

Dendrobium aphyllum grown by Chef Paulo Castillo-Fuentes

Superstitious Belief

Dendrobium aphyllum is grown in many areas of the country. It is grown primarily due to its beauty and landscaping value. It is normally attached to large trees, palms and fruit bearing trees like mangoes, lansones (Lansium parasiticum ), sapodilla (chico), duhat, caimito, jackfruit (langka) and guava.

Some people believe that having large clumps of these species can ward off unseen spirits. While some believes that having such orchids in one’s garden can attract good chi.

Some Filipino-Chinese have different beliefs, A friend would consider these orchid species as bad luck since they grow downwards. While another friend would consider them as good luck.

When we visited the province of Quezon. local orchid trader told us that the Dumagats/ Aeta would use the stems of Dendrobium aphyllum as material for weaving small trinkets several years ago, along with Dendrobium anosmum, Dendrobium crumenatum and Cymbidium finlaysonianum.

 

Care and Fertilization

I would recommend to secure these orchid species on a living tree (or mounting them on a tree slab). Try to prune the tree so that enough sunlight can reach its lower trunk. Put between 20 to 30 pieces slow release fertilizer ( 20N-20P-20K), and try to fertilize the orchid at least one a week with any water soluble fertilizer. Calcium nitrate, trace elements, boron and epsom salt ( at least once every 2 weeks) during its growing season. (Normally from late March to mid-November in western parts of the country). Do not forget to flush the orchid periodically with ordinary tap water to remove excess salt accumulation of fertilizers.

One can change the fertilize formulation when the rainy season starts to taper off in western parts of the country by late September or early October. Try to start fertilizing the orchid with high potassium and phosphate around late September ( 10N-30P-30K) until late November.

Try to observe change in weather pattern by watering less often by mid-November or when the onset of dry season and arrival of the Northeast monsoon (Amihan). Cool winds coming from mainland China and Russia.

Remember that this orchid species requires some drying and losing some of its leaves before it can flower.

One will be rewarded with hundreds of beautiful blooms once the blooming season start the following year.

Photos courtesy of  Chef Paulo Castillo Fuentes and Mr. Mac Pagsolingan

Sources and References:

Kew Garden of Life : Catalog of Life

Personal communication with growers

A Guide to the Dendrobium of the Philippines, Cootes and Tiong 2015

Philippine Native Orchid Species, Cootes, 2009

Philippines’ Book on Orchids , Andres Golamco and Jemma 1990 ISBN 971-8636-54-4

Exuberance Blooms of Dainty Sanggumay

Exuberance blooms of dainty sanggumay, fairy sanggumay , lesser sanggumay  or Dendrobium aphyllum . This orchid species got over 120 flowers opening slowly from late March to April . This is the first time in about 3 years of growing this cultivar variety from Mrs. Adelina Almerol that we were rewarded with this number of blooms. This maybe due to several factors: larger clumps means more flowers , drier conditions ( not watering for weeks ) and good air circulation and fertilization techniques .

Dendrobium aphyllum with over 120 light pink sepals with yellowish- lip flowers

I got a few keikis ( anaks, suhi , offsets ) from Mrs. Adelina Almerol from Marikina City way back in March 1, 2014 when Pinoy Coke Fanatics hosted an eyeball for their members . Mrs. Almerol told me that the orchids she got was from Pangasinan and she grew them from a few keikis for several years.

Dendrobium aphyllum grown about 10 feet from the ground

After about 2 weeks after late March 2014 , one of the smaller keikis gave us 1 bloom which gave us a hint on the size of the orchid species . Some of the keikis eventually grew long canes and i gave few keikis to some orchid hobbyists . The color form and shape of the flowers is bigger than the usual Dendrobium aphyllum, so the author gave this Dendrobium aphyllum a cultivar name of ” Adelina Almerol ” in honor of the owner of the clump.

This particular orchid got an untimely blooms around last December 2016 and early January 2017, with about 3 to 4 flowers.

There were over 120 flowers bore on several mature pseudobulbs creating a shower-like effect or shower / curtain effect .

Common Names: People would call this under numerous names, the most common is sanggumay . To be more specific – due to the smaller pseudobulbs and smaller flowers , They would refer this one as dainty , fairy or lesser sanggumay in reference to the thinner canes and smaller flowers.

This is one of the most commonly grown orchid species in the country .

Since the pseudobulbs are mature and we got a bigger clump , we expect the next blooming season ( 2018 ) will be more.

 

 

 

Fairy Sanggumays Flowering in the City:

Antipolo City – Rizal province ,  Philippines

fairy sanggumays mounted on a living mango tree ( photo credit  :  Architect Patricia ” Wendy” Fernando- Regalado

fairy sanggumay, dainty sanggumay, lesser sanggumay, purple rain shower orchid, salome, cow hooded orchid or simply called sanggumays ! These pendulous and deciduous -type of orchid bloom are a big ” welcome” to the height of summer heat and Easter holiday. They are called Dendrobium aphyllum or Dendrobium cucullatum depending on the orchid authorities.

Architect Patricia” Wendy ” Fernando -Regalado together with her orchids within their residence in Antipolo, Rizal province ( photo credit )

closer view of the orchid with flowers  ( photo credit: Architect  Patrica ” Wendy” Fernando- Regalado)

One can estimate that there were several thousand of flowers  producing  cascading -type or shower -like effect to the landscape. The owner is a certified architect and a landscaper which explains the beautifully arranged orchid  mounted to the mango tree. According to her , They probably grown this orchid species from some clumps about 5 or 6 years ago , dividing them once in a while , While the keikis  ( orchid plantlets / suhi/ anaks ) where also attached to the mango tree, adding more  orchids to the tree ! The mango tree is about two- decade or so -old.

Dendrobium aphyllum or Dendrobium cucullatum grown on this jack-fruit tree ( photo credit: Mr. Edward Ines Agdeppa )

Another friend who lives in Fairview area, Quezon City attached his fairy sanggumays to a jackfruit tree  (langka / nangka ) which he bought at the sunday market some years ago, mounting them on several branches . Now , the jack fruit tree is laden with fruits and flowers from the orchid.

dainty sanggumay blooming in Paete , Laguna ( photo credit: Mr. Hans-Blooming Vanda )

 flowering dainty sanggumay in our backyard

same clump

This clump had about 350 flowers with its almost 2 -meter long canes / pseudo-bulbs.

a smaller clump, with blooms !

This blooming orchid was attached to a different Mac Arthur palm facing north- east position. This clump had about 50 flowers .

our version of the cascading effect

We are expecting more clumps and more blooms in 2015 flowering season. This orchid species had a faint smell unlike its Dendrobium anosmum cousin.

close-up view of the flower

Note: This orchid species is easy to grow under Philippine condition.   Try to grow them as clumps in one tree or several trees to give a shower or curtain -like effect during its blooming season .  Try to give them an ample “rest period ” drying period once their growth have matured by November and December . You can surely expect them blooming by February , March , April or even May. It depends on what part of the archipelago that you live, some have a very short dry period , while some areas had almost no dry period .

Website links: http://www.orchidspecies.com/dendaphyllum.htm

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/dendrobium-aphyllum

http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/229453

Dendrobium cucullatum flowering in our garden

Dendrobium cucullatum R. Brown 1822 with over 200 flowers

Our family had been growing orchids and ornamental plants for several generations.  My grandmother is a plant and orchid lover, I have several aunts who cultivate and grow different flowering plants in their backyard or at  their farms.

Dendrobium cucullatum grown on a Mac Arthur palm  (Ptychosperma macarthurii )   for  about 3 -years

Mac Arthur Palm was introduced to the Philippines during the American colonization and was a popular ornamental palm : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptychosperma_macarthurii

http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/ptymaca.pdf

I think we got curious and have acquired our first pendulous -type of Dendrobium species  Dendrobium cucullatum aka Dendrobium pierardii  in the mid-1990’s when my mother went to her hometown in Bicol . According to her,  This particular orchid species  was widely cultivated in Bicol.  She also reminiscent  that when she visited the last time, around mid- 1980’s . she saw  massive clumps in one of her second cousin’s backyard.   She only took some photos and did not bother  to ask for a few keikis ‘ anaks” .

 Dendrobium cucullatum  clumps more than one ( 1) meter -long attached to the trunks of Mac Arthur palm

This orchid, Dendrobium aphyllum (Roxburgh) C.E.C. Fischer is previously called Dendrobium pierardii Roxburgh ex Hooker, which is now considered a synonyms.

Common Names:

Here in the Philippines ,  people  called this  orchid  species ” fairy sanggumay ” ,  ” dainty sanggumay ” , ” lesser sanggumay ” ” salome ”  or simply ” sanggumay” .   The flower are not as massive compared to the local sanggumay  ( Dendrobium anosmum ) and the flowers are pale in color , There somewhat  faint smell on the flowers .  The pendulous canes are thinner compared to the typical Dendrobium anosmum. Some neighbors in Novaliches would also have some small clumps of these orchid species tuck in one corner of their garden.

Renaming:

Then, in 2003, orchid experts Mr.  Eric Christenson and Mr. Howard Wood turned everything upside-down when they pronounced that D. aphyllum was not the same species as D. pierardii after all. They asserted that the plant William Roxburgh had illustrated back in the eighteenth century was a related but rather different species, which in 2003 was widely known as D. macrostachyum (never popular in horticulture due to its small, dully coloured flowers, but unusually widespread in the wild, from Sri Lanka to Australia and most areas in between). They also pointed out that the long-neglected name D. cucullatum was slightly older than D. pierardii.

It was again returned back to its original name Dendrobium aphyllum sometime 2010 after the some errors was reported .  But for the purposes of writing this article , i will stick to the 2003 re-naming .

Economic and Ethno-Botanical Importance:

Some internet sites call this hooded orchid, hooded cow orchid , since the flowers looked like a cone shaped -lip .  My father would call this Tiāngōng shíhú 天宮石斛 in reference to the pendulous habitat and it grow epiphytic . Some Chinese drugstore in Manila and in many Asian cities would used the dry canes for medicinal purposes .

In the Philippines, superstitious beliefs may vary from one town to another. It may depend on one person to another on ‘why’ they would cultivate and propagate these lovely orchid species in their backyard or properties.

One orchid collector  considered them as lucky plants ( when they started growing and collecting Dendrobium anosmum and Dendrobium cucullatum – Their business gradually flourish and got more clients  .

Dendrobium cucullatum / aphyllum were mounted on old trees

A backyard grower  believes that it is considered unlucky since they are pendulous and growing downward position thus gave away all their orchids ( Sayang ! ) . Another collector believes that they ward -off evil spirits and thus  planted their orchids near the entrance of one’s abode or house.  Another neighbor told us that she saw some Aetas using the canes for their native handicrafts in Zambales .

Dendrobium aphyllum / cucullatum grown within Far Eastern University campus

This orchid is also popular among landscapers and property owners with large trees or palms .  I saw a lot of mature specimen -sized orchids on large trees in Ayala-Alabang Village, Greenhills Village, Corinthian Gardens, Valle Verde,  Forbes Park, Rizal Park , Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Street , De La Salle University and Ugu Bigyan Pottery Compound .

a fairy sanggumay mounted on a duhat tree  ( Syzygium cumini ) within  Mrs. Adelina Almerol residence

When i attended an eyeball of the Pinoy Coke Fanatics  last March 1, 2014 held at Ipil street , Marikina Heights, Marikina City  – I walked from Ipil street  number 1 to 150 plus.  Along Ipil street ,  I saw several homes growing this particular orchid species mounted on living tree such as caimito, mango,  jackfruit  ( langka/ nangka)  ,guava, madre de cacao ( Gliricida sepium ), duhat tree and even in boungainvillea ! I was surprise the almost total neglect that the homeowners gave to their orchids, and some even thought that are  almost dead!!!!!

bougainvillea with a small clump of fairy sanggumay on the trunks

Although i did not not won any major prize during the raffle and contest held at the premises  . I was rewarded by Tita Adelina Almerol , the owner of the place whom i tried to ask some keikis . She  told me to just get some keikis in one of the duhat trees. ” Maraming Salamat po Ulit” rest assured that i will propagate those keikis!

 Dendrobium cucullatum orchid festoon this guava tree

Her garden is simple but with a lot of big trees and full of native Dendrobium anosmum, Dendrobium cucullatum and Dendrobium crumenatum .

a jack fruit tree with orchids ( Dendrobium anosmum and  Dendrobium cucullatum ) attached to its main trunk add beauty to the landscape

Some of her neighbors also have some orchids too!!!! I tried to ask her about when did she started growing them?  According to her,  The   sanggumays, she refers to both small ( Dendrobium cucullatum ) and big types  ( Dendrobium anosmum )as she brought from the province. Most of the orchids are more than a decade -old.

Another duhat tree with  Dendrobium anosmum , Dendrobium cucullatum/ aphyllum and a Philodendron species

We used to have at least 100 fully grown specimen sized- plants of Dendrobium cucullatum collected from  Nueva Ecija, Masbate, Sorsogon, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Bulacan , Pampanga, Albay, Marinduque , Ilocos , Pangasinan and even Metro Manila .  Some were bought at the Manila Seedling Bank,  sunday market,  orchid peddlers , some are just given to me as keikis  by neighbors and friends . I carefully tagged the different kinds or localities . However during the BIG construction boom ,  Almost half of our 100 specimen -sized  Dendrobium cucullatum orchids were among the first casualties due to theft, concrete cement pouring by construction workers who cared-less for these native orchids ! Hindi man lang kayo nagpasintabi ….Tsk tsk tsk….

BUT just not to spark any flame wars with our neighbors who cared -less for these native orchids. HUH they do not have an idea it took almost 20 -years of collection ?

We just rescued all the orchids, hoyas, native ferns and attached them to a living host palms, trees and even re-potted some of the remaining survivors . We hope to re-collect some of the species we lost ! Ganyan talaga ang Buhay !

Growing and Propagation Method:

My growing techniques are simple and are tested , I would divide the clumps after the flowering season into 5 to 6 pseudo- bulbs from a specimen or “mother orchid” mounting them in small pre-cut kakawate wood putting a few mosses on top to keep the root in moist condition.  When tree fern slabs were still common in the garden stalls , I would use them as a material before.

a juvenile plant mounted on a tree fern slab with small cloth ( with slow release fertilizers)

I would put some mosses or fern roots ( pasdak  ) on the keikis in order for them to get establish before removing them when they reach at least 10- inch long with most of the roots covering the moss or fern roots. Thus the survival rate will be higher.

I would give them about 1- month rest period after blooming . Then  fertilize my Dendrobium cucullatum or Dendrobium anosmum with a diluted NPK 20-20-20 every twice a week  – reduce strength from the label.

Alternately giving them organic fertilizers and different brands of fertilizer once in a while  ( example Peters , Siam, Gaviota ) . During its growing season ( starts after they bloom , when you see new growth had started mostly around  late April or Mid- May  ) . I would put a small bag of slow release fertilizer (  gather used stockings, socks and old clothes sew them into a small tea bag -like pack .

I had to put between 20 to 30 pellets of slow release fertilizer for a full grown orchid  plant and between 10 to 15 pellets of slow release fertilizer for a immature orchid keikis , This will boost the growing rate of these orchid, normally since it is hot and rainy by the time their growing season started. I had to repeat putting the granules every 1 month , It is faster in tropical regions of the world that slow release fertilizers would leach-out their properties rather in the temperate areas ( mostly 2 months ) . The more frequent it rains , the more chances that we need to replenish the slow release fertilizers and start applying fungicide before the onset of the rainy season too ! I have to repeat this at least 5 to 6 times within the growing period from late March till October or November  ( growing season may also vary from region to region and by continents )  . I would slowly stop my fertilization to all my Dendrobium ( deciduous type  ) .

a smaller flowering sized – Dendrobium given to me as keikis 3 weeks -ago by Ms. Adelina  Almerol of Marikina City

I have to wait until the last growth and slowly minimizing my watering cycle from almost daily ( due to monsoon rains everyday – We get at least 91- inches of rain in Novaliches, Quezon City  area ) To almost twice-a  week by October and almost once a week watering cycle by November . When the growth is plump and the leaves are mature enough. Slowly reduce the watering and by late November or early December,  Start to dry the deciduous-type of Dendrobiums . I completely stop all watering and just reduce all  watering activities to just misting the surrounding areas and plants just to avoid too much shivering of the pseudo-bulbs. At this time all leaves are becoming yellow or had fallen -off the pseudo-bulbs.

Within 1 or 2 months period, Maybe late January ,  February until first week of March  , You can see small bumps at the pseudo-bulbs indicating that flowering is on its way . You can resume watering , flowers can last between a few days ( maybe due to thrips )up to at least 2 weeks.

Habitat and Distribution Range:

This orchid species can be found in wide range of habitat from 100 meter elevation up to more than 1,000 meters  elevation . It can be found  on trees and may grow on rocks or boulders as  Lithophytes.  This orchid species is widespread from  India, Sir Lanka, Yunnan, China,  Taiwan ,  Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Maldives, Himalayas, , Andaman islands, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Borneo, Lesser Sunda Islands, Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Queensland , Australia, Nepal, Bhutan and the Philippines.

According to some observations, This orchid used to be collected in Mindoro, Leyte , Quezon , Laguna , Batangas , Bicol provinces , Visayas and Mindanao area.  However  due to the nature of this species, It also invaded some lowland fruit tree plantations and can be found growing in cultivated areas such as lansones plantations, caimito , acacia , duhat tree. There were some Dendrobium cucullatum / Dendrobrium aphyllum that were deliberately introduced from neighboring Thailand, Malaysia and India in the late 1970’s by plant traders which introduced them to the Philippine market. They are larger and darker in color form compared to the type species that are normally encountered .

I hope that with what remains  in our garden will inspire , orchid species collector like me had gone through .” Kahit kaunti na ang natira ” , even if there are few that survive the onslaught . There is still a renewed HOPE that in our small way , we can nurture , care , help and propagate these valuable native species   ! I hope to seek the other forms from other sanggumay collectors in other parts of the country.

Note: Currently we are looking for some forms of this orchid species for eventual re-establisment in one of our group member who had a small farm in Antipolo, Rizal.

Philippine Orchid Conservation and Preservation Volunteers

Facebook Page ( Private group ) : https://www.facebook.com/groups/407610329339909/

The group currently had 75 members in different parts of the Philippines

 Kindly visit theses website links:

http://www.orchidspecies.com/dendaphyllum.htm

http://www.orchidsonline.com.au/node/4404

http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?461110

 http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/229453

http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/dendrobium-aphyllum