Dendrobium daklakense is a showy, attractive Vietnamese orchid that has evaded discovery until very recently.
About this species
Within the huge orchid genus Dendrobium, there is a relatively small group of about 40 species from tropical Asia known as the section Formosae. All species in this section have large, showy flowers with a thick, waxy texture, which are most commonly white with orange markings. These beautiful orchids are much sought-after by collectors and, as a result, most of these species were discovered and described long ago. It is therefore surprising that one of the most striking species in this section, Dendrobium daklakense, should have remained undetected until very recently. It was discovered in 2009 at an undisclosed locality in the Daklak province of southern Vietnam by a hunter, who passed it on to a local orchid grower, Duong Toan. Kew botanist André Schuiteman, Vietnamese botanist Nguyen Thien Tich and Jaap Vermeulen from NCB Naturalis in the Netherlands joined forces to describe this species, which was formally published in November 2010.
Geography & Distribution
Vietnam (Dak Lak Province). As Dendrobium daklakense has not yet been found in the wild by scientists, it is possible that the actual origin of this species lies elsewhere, perhaps in neighbouring Laos or Cambodia. Orchid smuggling is unfortunately a widespread practice in the region. This would not alter the fact that it is most likely a rare and local species.
Line drawing of Dendrobium daklakense by Nguyen Thien Tich
Dendrobium daklakense is an epiphytic orchid with clustered, cane-like, leafy stems up to 60 cm long. The leaves are dark green, densely covered with blackish hairs, 8-9 cm long and about 2 cm wide. The leaf-sheaths are dull green with dense blackish hairs, especially along the margin. The inflorescences are very short, arising from the upper part of the stem, and have 5-7 flowers. The flowers appear in November, open very wide, and are about 5 cm across. The sepals and petals are pure white, glossy and thick. The lip is 3-lobed, orange-yellow with orange-red keels and warts, and white at the base. The side-lobes have orange-red raised lines, and the top part of the mid-lobe is sometimes whitish. The column and anther are white. The pollinia (small bodies formed by cohering pollen masses) are orange-yellow. The pedicel and ovary are white, becoming greenish-white towards the top.
Threats & Conservation
Dendrobium daklakense is probably quite rare in the wild, with a restricted distribution, because otherwise it would have been discovered much earlier. It is highly likely to become a popular species among amateur orchid growers and provided that plants are raised from seed, rather than collected from the wild, this will help to ensure its survival. At present there is no information concerning potential threats to its habitat.
There is, as yet, no experience with cultivation of Dendrobium daklakense outside Vietnam. Species of Dendrobium section Formosae tend to be among the more difficult members of this genus to cultivate.
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