Monday, July 21, 2008

Grammatophyllum speciosum Bl.

Giant of the Orchids

This species the Grammatophyllum is the largest orchid plant in the World and is found in Malaysia to Papua New Guinea. G. speciosum have been recorded to weigh several tons!! The cane-like growth can reach up to 14 feet in height and is usually found growing on very large timber trees along river banks .
It is also known that this species, when removed to be grown elsewhere outside their natural environment, can be notoriously stubborn for not flowering even up to ten years! Our plant, a cutting of the one we have from Kelantan was grown here in our home here in Klang, Selangor for 6 years.
It flowered for the first time . The first bloom was at the last 4 days during the Chinese New Year i.e 17th. February,2008 and it lasted for over a month. The second bloom started 15th. June until today. The parent plant is still in Kelantan and usually flowers around Mederka Day in August.. We can safely conclude that orchid species like these, do not follow its flowering pattern when grown out of their location/recorded season.

We are very proud of its robust growth especially at lowland. We started with a total of 28 canes and as at today, we have over 82 canes! It is very healthy and easy to grow. In a specially built trough to grow this species, we have this G. speciosum from five different locations throughout the Peninsular. They are from Kelantan, Pedu(Kedah), Gentings(Pahang), Muar and K.Rompin (Johore). Only the one from Kelantan flowered and did it twice!

This is our planting which is next to our fresh water pond.
This is a picture of the single flower. It measured around 4ins x 6 ins each and the first stalk consists of 61 flowers!

We tested for self-pollination and it produced 3 large fruits measuring 8ins x 5 ins weighing 300gms each! We had to support its flower stalk too. The photo below was taken at its development stage. When the fruit ripens, normally takes about 3 months, bursts and showers the area below with millions of powder-like seeds. It is rare that new plants would be formed if the environment is not conducive. In nature, new seedlings are formed this way. This is due to the absence of nutrient-giving mycorrhiza. Many artificially germinate the seeds in the laboratory.
The total height of the flower stalk stands at 6 ft. (below)
The second flowering produced 80 flowers!
This picture (below) was taken Kuala Rompin, Johore. The Grammatophyllum speciosum was just grown under full sun outside the home but with strong sea breeze everyday.

It is also known that many orchids such as these have been used as traditional medicine. This article which appeared in 'The Star' Malaysia, reported that in Sarawak, the Kelabit people uses it as a food dish.
A very interesting reference book on how orchids are being used by humans is written by Professor Emeritus Joseph Arditti

"Fundamentals of Orchid Biology" [Wiley, ISBN 0-471-54906-1]

in the chapter 'Commercial and Ethnobotanical Uses of Orchids'.

I was glad to have meet him here in Petaling Jaya in August 2005 when he gave a presentation at the invitation by PRIME College.