Sunday, February 3, 2013

More Jewel Orchids: Ludisia paradise

Curiosity defeated acrophobia at a limestone hill in S Thailand as we attempted scaling with no climbing gear. It might appear rash but in reality it was not so difficult since the cliffs were overgrown with hardy trees and shrubs which one could grip or gain a foothold. Still, I had a close shave, nearly plunging down a pit when the debris gave way, and fortunately it was narrow enough not to allow my arms to slide through. The purpose for such an undertaking would simply be a glimpse into a virginal patch untouched previously by meddling humans. And like a box of chocolate, you never know what your’re gonna get.

As it turned out, this place is a Ludisia paradise ! I have seen them growing in isolated pockets here and there but here they luxuriate in great abundance …..

… clumps with the Globbas….

……. and on vertical slopes to catch the rays ……

Ludisia discolor is a variable jewel orchid found from Burma way down south to Sumatra. For many people, this is the only jewel orchid they knew since it is the most commonly cultivated and propagated species in the west.  In fact, it the one of the small handful of jewel orchids amenable to cultivation. I saw 2 forms on 2 cliffs here –

a yellow veined form with matt dark brown background and 


the red veined with reddish background.

Although relatively bigger than most jewel orchids, the flowers are not spectacular. Despite an abundance of blooming specimens, I hesitated to frame a closeup as I thought all the flowers were mal-formed. I later found out that the flower is by design, rather weird - the lip and column being twisted in different directions from each other.

After reaching the top, we found that the only to return is to back-track....

... and looking down can be rather hair-raising.

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