Discover this beautiful orchid.

By Jim Cootes

Members of the genus Crepidium are usually found growing among the leaf litter on the forest floor in a range of habitats. There are even some species which will grow epiphytically, but usually on the base of the tree trunk, rather than on the higher branches. The flowers, though not large, are usually of bright colors; with some species being monotone (usually bright orange to yellowish), others having several distinct hues.

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Crepidium ramosii (right) and Crepidium purpureiflourum.

The most obvious feature of these flowers is the labellum, which is quite large and in some species of quite intricate construction. The plants have fleshy stems, bearing three or six large, thinly-textured leaves, which usually have wavy edges. In some species the foliage is purplish, but mainly it is varying shades of green. The inflorescence appears from the centre of the plant and is upright, bearing numerous, usually pleasantly coloured blooms. The flowers are resupinate, meaning that the labellum is uppermost.

Dr. Carl Blume (1796 – 1862) created the genus Crepidium in 1825 in Bijdragen . It is interesting to note that Dr. Blume created at least 123 orchid genera, many of which are still recognised today. Only the English botanist Dr. John Lindley (1799 – 1865) with 235 genera, and the German taxonomist Rudolf Schlechter (1872 – 1925), with 165 genera, have created more general in the family Orchidaceae.

There are about 280 species in the genus, and the Philippines has at least 30 species, 27 of which are endemic, or found in no other country in the world.

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Crepidium quadrilobum; Crepidium quadridentatum Photos by Ronny Boos and Ravan Schneider

A Selection of Species

Crepidium binabayense is a low to mid-elevation species, which appears to be only known from the island of Mindoro. This is a bi-coloured species with reddish-purple sepals and petals, and a golden yellow labellum.

Crepidium dentatum is found throughout much of the Philippines, where it is found at elevations of about 1,000 metres. This is a tri-coloured species with sepals and petals being reddish-brown, and the labellum being orange with purple overlay in the centre. The specific epithet refers to the toothlike lobes on the labellum.

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Crepidium binabayensis
Photos by Ronny Boos and Ravan Schneider

Crepidium purpureifolium is of limited distribution through the southern provinces of Luzon, and the central islands in the Visayan Sea. It appears to grow at elevations of between 500 and 1,200 metres. The flowers are mainly deep purple in colour, with the apex of the labellum being yellowish-green. The specific epithet refers to the colour of the flowers. An attractive feature of this species it the distinctly toothed apex of the labellum.

Crepidium quadridentatum is only known from the island of Mindoro, and has recently been seen on Panay. It grows at elevations of about 800 metres. This species too has a bi-coloured flower, with the sepals and petals being almost translucent green to cream, and a purple labellum.

The specific name refers to the four, acute toothlike lobes on the labellum. Crepidium quadrilobum is of limited distribution through the southern provinces of Luzon, and the central islands in the Visayan Sea. It grows at elevations of between 800 and 1,000 metres. The blooms of this species are of a bright yellow to orange colouration. The specific epithet refers to the four lobed labellum.

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Crepidium dentatum
Photos by Ronny Boos and Ravan Schneider

Crepidium ramosii is also known to be found on the northern island of Taiwan. In the Philippines it is known to occur on many of the islands. It grows at elevations from sea level up to about 700 metres. The flowers are bright orange, and in the centre of the labellum there is a beautiful silvery blotch. The specific epithet honours the collector Mr. Maximo Ramos.

Note: The species mentioned here are not plants that will prosper well in the hot, humid lowlands, and they should be left in their higher elevation habitats. It is vital that we conserve what is left, for future generations.

(Reprinted from the December 6, 2015 issue of Manila Bulletin)

This appeared as “Crepidium: Something Different” in Agriculture Monthly’s February 2016 issue.