Lightning Orchids

My dad called these Lightning Orchids, which I've discovered is not correct, the plant is Dendrobium Crumanatum and the common name for them is Pigeon Orchids. He said that they flowered after a lightning storm and he's not completely wrong about that. This orchid forms buds after there is a temperature drop, usually due to a thunderstorm. Nine days later long necklaces of white flowers with a yellow throat bloom gregariously with members of this species in its vicinity. The blooms are fragrant, particularly in the morning and last only a day.

This ephemeral quality perfectly suits where these orchids reside, on the branches of the durian trees in the orchard. Its an area that is not 'gardened' I cut the grass once a month but otherwise leave it mostly alone and enjoy the occasional surprise of these orchids which literally lights up the trees with these strings of white flowers. Apart from the durian flowers, these are the only other flowers here.

They are a relatively common wild orchid, you see them in a lot of trees but due to this ephemeral, weather specific behavior, unless you are actually in regular contact with them- you might miss these little shows that they put on. They also really want to stay wild - I've tried having them on wooden branches hung in the porch and they never flower and generally look ill at ease. So their ideal situation is what exists in the orchard a colony growing on the branches of a small grove of untended trees, protected but with a lot of light.

Its been an extraordinarily cool and wet monsoon this year which is unusual to even say as we really live far south of the monsoon belt and shouldn't really be experiencing such a clear seasonal pattern. But we are and there's been serious flooding throughout the country, particularly on the east coast, a consequence of climate change and deforestation. I have to admit, I've loved the cool mornings and the garden has also loved the daily soak that it gets. We're now back into hot dry weather and it must have been that one heavy shower we had over a week ago that cooled things down and triggered these orchids to put on a show.

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