Collecting things: Rare orchids
I have a confession to make - I am a serial hoarder. I like collecting things, be it teddy bears, good books, good watches, fountain pens etc. Among my favourite hobbies is collecting orchids. I still maintain 2 large collections in 2 countries, but lately due to COVID, I could not travel to visit my beloved flowers.
Why? Because orchids regenerate - they can be divided and shared. They make good gifts to friends and loved ones.
I'm quite a snob, I do not collect common orchids such as the hybrids one finds at Supermarkets and garden centres. I want the most exotic, the rarest species there is. If it's on the CITES Appendix, I would seek it out. There was always the thrill of the chase - the glory of owning a rarity like owning a limited edition FPJ piece, or a piece from Only Watch.
In the orchid world. the equivalent of an FPJ would be an orchid known as Phragmipedium kovachii or Paphiopedilum anitum, or perhaps, even a Mexipedium selenipedium - I used to have access to these plants, and the strange thing about rare things - money will not buy them, one needs serious connections and maybe a little money too. Sometimes, the collectors may like me so much, they give me something from their hearts - I once received a shoebox of a newly discovered orchid (Paphiopedilum canhii), for free, from a Vietnamese friend. I still keep the last example of an extinct orchid, which was given to me as a gift, when I was a young boy, by an old veteran collector in Singapore.
(Disclaimer: I support wildlife conservation, and mass propagation of rare plants. I am known to give my rare plants away for tissue cloning, to ensure they survive in collections)
Here are some pictures I found (I have more pictures but I have left my files back in Singapore). I'll write a short description of each orchid below:
Coelogyne mayeriana - this orchid is almost extinct in the wild. It was over-collected due to its beauty. In the plant world, the colour black is almost impossible to produce, but this orchid has an almost black lip. It smells of apples. This plant was given to me for free. One day I spotted a wine supplier growing this outside his office, and he could not identify it, which I did. He gave me a cutting of it. I later gave a cutting of this plant to a watch collector who was a mentor to me. This collector has more than 150 pieces of watches- he likes collecting rare things too.
Dendrobium capra - this is prized for it's waxy flower, and green colouration. It is used to produce green hybrids.
Dendrobium trigonopus and a vanilla vine growing around it. This orchid is not very rare, but it is a joy to grow. Flowers smell of the sweetest honey.
Ah, this is rare. I don't condone the practice of collecting wild orchids, especially these CITES Appendix 1 slipper orchids. This was taken in Vietnam where I used to live for a few years. The orchid is known as Paphiopedilum micranthum. There are new forms being discovered, such as those with white lips, bolder veins etc, and these are also being over-collected.
What a beautiful we live in. I gotta go dig up more pictures. Until next time...