By JAMES TABABA
June is a special month in the Philippines, as it marks the onset of the rainy season and the blooming of many beautiful orchid species. As the rains begin to fall, orchids that have been dormant during the dry season are triggered to start growing and producing flowers, bringing color and life to gardens and natural areas across the country.
In many parts of the Philippines, particularly in the mountainous areas, the blooming of certain flowers during June serves as a natural indicator of the changing season. Mountain communities have developed an intimate understanding of their local flora and fauna, utilizing this knowledge to monitor environmental changes throughout the year.
Here are some of the fascinating orchids that typically bloom in June, showcasing the diversity and beauty of the Philippines’ native flora.
Grammatophyllum wallisii, commonly known as the Tiger Orchid, is native to the tropical rainforests of the Philippines. This magnificent orchid species has been prized for centuries for its flowers, which are often striped with bold, tiger-like patterns.
It has been located in various locations, including the Sierra Madre Mountain range, Quirino, Aurora, Bicol, and Quezon provinces. These areas provide the orchid with the ideal conditions it needs to grow and thrive, such as high humidity, warm temperatures, and ample rainfall.
Grammatophyllum wallisii is a type of orchid that is known as a sympodial orchid. Sympodial growth refers to the way in which the plant grows, with lateral growth producing new shoots from the base of the plant rather than from a central stem. This growth pattern allows the plant to form large clumps over time, with multiple pseudobulbs and leaves forming a dense and impressive display.
The plant can grow up to several meters in length and width, making it one of the largest orchids in the world.
Renanthera storiei is a beautiful and unique orchid species native to the Philippines. Renanthera storiei is commonly known as the Fire Orchid due to its brilliant fiery red flowers. The common name is derived from the color of its blooms, which resemble the flames of a fire. The Fire Orchid is a popular ornamental plant and is widely cultivated for its stunning and vibrant flowers.
One of the reasons for its popularity is its use in breeding programs to produce larger and more robust flowers with branching spikes. It is highly sought after for its desirable traits such as its vibrant color, strong stems, and long-lasting flowers. As a result, it has been extensively used in breeding programs to develop new and exciting orchid varieties.
Renanthera storiei is a monopodial orchid, which means it has a single stem with leaves and flowers growing from the top. The stem grows upward and does not produce pseudobulbs like many other orchid species. Instead, the plant produces aerial roots that help it anchor onto tree trunks or other support structures.
Vanda luzonica is an orchid species that is named after Luzon island in the Philippines, where it is commonly found. It is an endemic orchid of the Philippines, meaning it is native to and found only in the Philippines. However, it has become rarer due to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in Zambales. Despite this, it remains a favorite among collectors and enthusiasts, and is often used in hybridization to create new and interesting orchid varieties, particularly for its beautiful pink pigment.
The color of the flowers is typically white with a soft pink or lavender shade, with darker pink or purple markings or spots on the lip. The petals and sepals are usually a lighter color than the lip, giving the flower a delicate look.
One of the interesting characteristics of this bloom is that it typically needs to grow to about one meter in height before it will produce its striking flowers. This height requirement is a trait of some monopodial orchids, which grow vertically from a single stem and produce leaves and flowers along its length.
Vanda ustii is a beautiful and unique orchid that is endemic to the Philippines. Originally thought to be a variety of Vanda luzonica, it was later determined to be a separate species due to its distinct morphology. It was named after the University of Santo Tomas, with its golden-yellow flowers representing the school’s colors.
The flowers of Vanda ustii display a golden-yellow hue with a purple lip and violet markings on each sepal. As a monopodial orchid, Vanda ustii grows from a single stem that continues to elongate from the tip throughout its life.
Compared to its close relative Vanda luzonica, Vanda ustii is more free-flowering and produces blooms more frequently. It can be found in the Southern Luzon regions of the Philippines.