Fairy Sanggumay is also known as dainty sanggumay, lesser sanggumay, salome, latigo, pink purple rain, hooded orchid and cow lip orchid in the Philippines.
Scientifically called Dendrobium aphyllum, This is one of the most common orchids grown in homes, resorts, farms and used as landscape to accentuate old trees.
There is a faint smell and the small size flowers does not last long under Metro Manila conditions. However when grown en mass, this orchid species can give a spectacular display during its blooming season.
Dendrobium aphyllum grown in a jackfruit tree
Some growers are quite enchanted in growing this orchid species in other parts of Asia like Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, China and are grown en mass. They believe that it bring good luck to the growers and attracts good chi to their businesses or property.
Origin of the names: Fairy, Dainty or Lesser Sanggumays
Dendrobium aphyllum clump grown in Nueva Viscaya
Ordinary backyard hobbyists would refer this under different common names, fairy sanggumays because they looked like miniature fairies flying or dainty sanggumays orchids since they are pale in color.
Some growers would also call this as “lesser sanggumay” since their flowers are not that big and not stenchy compared to the larger and more pungent smelling Dendrobium anosmum.
Sanggumays got its root word from two Tagalog words, ” Sangsang” – which means nauseating ,overpowering, stench (smell), putrid and “Umay” or ” Gumay” meaning tired-some, surfeit , satiety.
Some backyard growers would also refer some pendulous types of orchid species like Dendrobium heterocarpum, Dendrobium rhombeum, Dendrobium bullenianum collectively as sanggumays.
Dendrobium aphyllum mounted on a macopa tree
Dendrobium aphyllum naturalized in a mango tree
In several decades of growing this orchid species, We notice that this prefer host trees with rough bark like duhat, mango, talisay, chico, caimito, jack fruit, lansones, acacia and macopa. This also prefers coconut and manila palm.
Dendrobium aphyllum bigger sepals and petal and roundish lip
Dendrobium aphyllum that was given to the author by Mrs. Adelina Almirol from Marikina few years ago in 2014 with rather large lip, roundish petals and sepals. Which makes this type an outstanding clone.
Dendrobium aphyllum naturalized on to a mahogany tree in Santa Fe, Nueva Viscaya
Fertilization and Care
Try to put a small amount of slow release fertilizer during its growing season sewn into a small cloth then alternating a fertilization program with a doze of water soluble fertilizer 20N-20P-20K diluted into 1/4 of the strength, micro-nutrient, epsom salt and calcium two weeks after blooming until past September or October. We change fertilizer formulation to 10N- 30P-30K during late- September to mid-November to make the pseudobulb/ stems stronger and in preparation for its rest and blooming season.
Another way to grow this orchid species is by mounting them on to an Asplenium nidus or Asplenium musifolium. These fern species can be a perfect symbiotic relationship with these orchid species. the fern’s black roots can hold some moisture for a longer time.
Watering is gradually reduced to a minimum from late December until early February when the cold season or dry season starts.
One can be rewarded with these dainty blooms or the fairy sanggumay in the next blooming season.
Happy Growing !!!
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