The Bulbophyllum vaginatum orchid blooms with clusters of creamy coloured flowers with filaments, resembling miniature fireworks. From the family Orchidaceae, this gregariously flowering orchid can grow up to 12 cm. The species loves hot temperature and high humidity. It also prefers a semi-shaded environment, thus we can see it grow on many large shady trees and often found in abundance on old trees in fairly exposed areas. This orchid species is widely distributed in Malaysia, and normally blooms 2-3 times a year with a period lasting 2-4 days. Besides Peninsular Malaysia, Bulbophyllum vaginatum is also widely distributed in Borneo, Peninsular Thailand, Sumatra, Java, and Maluku.
Usually, this epiphytic species will colonize most of the branches enveloping them all around. And when it blooms, the tree seems spotted with yellowish cream tiny flowers. It is believed that this gregarious flowering is usually triggered by rainstorms and a drop in temperature that typically happens after rains, hence inducing massive flowering that is hard to miss. In FRIM, this orchid flowered during the third week of September and lasted for an average of four days. The spectacular colour and fragrance of the flowers attracts bees and other pollinators which will cross-pollinate the orchid. This orchid is a sympodial species that spread through a series of pseudobulbs which are connected at the base of each other. Each pseudobulbs has a single oblong-shaped leaf.
In FRIM, this orchid can be found in several areas such as on the trees next to D1 building, on the rain trees in front of the ULP building, in front of the football field, and also on trees near the auditorium and cafeteria.
One can try taking a closer look at the branches of any shady trees in FRIM, and if lucky enough, we might see them blanketed with epiphytic orchids. Other orchids often found in FRIM include tiger orchid Grammatophyllum speciosum, Pomatocalpa and pigeon orchid Dendrobium crumenatum.
Article by Nor Azlin, MF. First uploaded on 28 September 2012.