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Bletilla striata in habitat

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KyushuCalanthe

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Bletilla striata is one of the most recognized and commonly grown terrestrial orchids in the world, and yet in the wilds of Japan it has become a rarity. When I first came to Japan I thought this would be one of the first orchids I’d encounter in nature, while in fact I saw for the first time in its native habitat only yesterday - a full 17 years after coming to this country. That was not due to lack of trying to find it.

Just to the northeast of Fukuoka City is a limestone plateau (technically called a karst formation) complete with caves, sinkholes, and exposed limestone features. The limestone here forms vast boulder fields of crystalline limestone that is constantly weathering, creating crystalline grit that mixes with the peat created by the surrounding grassland. This substrate is ideal for this species to grow, as well as a number of other orchids and a great variety of other unusual herbs.

The common wild colored form is very vibrant.



For more about this species check out my blog post:

Bletilla striata

I will also have a video out fairly soon about the trip to this lovely place (I hope!).
 

GuRu

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B. striata in flower is always a nice sight. Also interesting to read about your patience to find it in Japan. I saw B. striata in flower in the wild at the roadside of a mountain road in Cuba in 2011. The colour of these flowers were not that intense as in your photo nevertheless quite nice.
 

naoki

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Very nice! I think I went to Karst in Yamaguchi Pref. (I forgot the name of the place), but I've never visited Hiraodai. Is it rare due to over-collection? Rewatching the video, I didn't know Soryu could be a hybrid. I'm now growing a couple indoor, and indeed Soryu looks smaller.
 

KyushuCalanthe

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Very nice! I think I went to Karst in Yamaguchi Pref. (I forgot the name of the place), but I've never visited Hiraodai. Is it rare due to over-collection? Rewatching the video, I didn't know Soryu could be a hybrid. I'm now growing a couple indoor, and indeed Soryu looks smaller.
Hi Naoki, this karst is one of the big three in Japan: Hiraodai (Kyushu, Fukuoka), Akiyoshidai (Honshu, Yamaguchi), and the Shikoku Karst (Shikoku, Ehime and Kochi). This species appears to not be a woodland plant, favoring open environments like river banks and natural grasslands. Since most of the naturally occurring rivers and grasslands have been largely converted to human use, and or manipulated for flood control, this species was heavily impacted. Ditto other species that favor open environments like bogs, wet meadows and the like - Habenaria radiata, Epipactis thunbergii and Pogonia species come to mind. Soryu is in my mind, without question, a hybrid, but of what only the creator knows the answer. Even Murasaki Shikibu, which is said to grow true from seed, is has chunkier flowers that are held in an unusual upright stance, but this one may be a pure B. striata.

B. striata in flower is always a nice sight. Also interesting to read about your patience to find it in Japan. I saw B. striata in flower in the wild at the roadside of a mountain road in Cuba in 2011. The colour of these flowers were not that intense as in your photo nevertheless quite nice.
Rudolf, I think you are confusing Bletia purpurea with this species - a common mistake. I've been fortunate to see that one too years ago in the Big Cypress Swamp of south Florida. Bletilla species are naturally distributed only in east Asia.
 

abax

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Gorgeous flowering and the color is far more
intense than the cultivated specimens I've
ever seen. Glad you found them!
 

monocotman

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Tom,
Great video. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I tried Bletilla many years ago without much success but you’ve convinced me to have another go,
David
 

SEMO-Cypr

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AAFEBB96-AD1B-4136-9512-83258FDAB02B.jpeg Thanks for the great information on this species and all the other videos you have done in the past. Huge fan of your bontany boy channel. Looking forward to the video. Btw, your video of riding your bike into the mountains and going through the gauntlet as you aptly mentioned it gave me knots in my stomach. I have a road bike and ride in rural Missouri and I can’t imagine riding through that metropolis.

I’ll have to try Striata. My Bletilla Ochracea has gone from 3 small seedling shoots and 3 years later it has 25 and 16 of them have spikes.

Keep up the good work.
 

NYEric

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Wow, beautiful. I have to sneak over the fence into the backyard, (there's a construction scaffolding restriction) to see how the few I planted last year are doing. Thanks for sharing.
 

KyushuCalanthe

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The plateau is a pretty awesome place to visit - lots of rare to unusual plants up there from spring through fall, and the setting is cool too, more like Scotland than Japan!

Nice looking B. ochracea SEMO. B. striata is a breeze to grow in comparison. Riding the streets of Fukuoka is life challenging, and honestly I don't like it much these days. Riding the mountains is still a lot of fun though.
 

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