Fantastic Beasts ......

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Steve G

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A selection of photographs of various wee feral beasties from the Orient. Whilst all of these images are of plants that I have grown I cannot yet profess to having mastered their cultivation.

Cypripedium micranthum -more like a Robin chick than a plant!
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Cypripedium sichuanense -this species has only just become available from legitimate cultivated sources in the last couple of years (Hengduan Mountains Biotechnology Ltd). I find it to be more demanding than fargesii or lichiangense but perhaps less attractive.
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Cypripedium fargesii -looks cute but get too close and it will take your finger off!
Studies have been done on fargesii which suggest that the flower mimics fungus-infected foliage fooling Flat-footed flies into pollinating the plant. See this link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088628/
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Cypripedium lichiangense -the aristocrat of the group. I have found the flowers to be strangely attractive to carrion flies. The final macro image shows some Bluebottle eggs that were laid on the flower of one of my plants. The flower does look like the decaying flesh of a small mammal when viewed up close.
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Cypripedium plectrochilum -this granite-chinned dwarf is best grown hard and lean.
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JAB

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WOW! Great photos and info!! Any tips on keeping the rarer asian (orient is a bit antiquated my friend ;)) species?

Thanks
Jake
 

KyushuCalanthe

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Glorious! Too bad these guys are so tricky in cultivation. It is good to know that at least a few people are successful growing them. It would be nice if they could be propagated and put back out into the wild since they are so damn rare. C. sichuanense for instance is so limited in geographic range and available habitat that less than 300 plants are estimated to be yet in the wild, and these are under constant collecting pressure. In the cases of C. lichangense and C. lentigenosum, the situation maybe even more severe since they are more coveted by enthusiasts. I'm glad to hear you are getting yours through people who have actually artificially propagated them.

One last thing on this - please don't support sellers of wild collected Cyps, especially these ultra rare ones. If a plant is really cheap, it is very likely wild collected. In China there yet remains tons of good habitat for many plants and the idea that you are doing them a favor by growing them is a false argument - the plants are fine in their native haunts. If you really want some of these, then by all means get some, but through reliable people like Hengduan Mountains Biotech, or the like. Rant over.
 

Steve G

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Glorious! Too bad these guys are so tricky in cultivation. It is good to know that at least a few people are successful growing them. It would be nice if they could be propagated and put back out into the wild since they are so damn rare. C. sichuanense for instance is so limited in geographic range and available habitat that less than 300 plants are estimated to be yet in the wild, and these are under constant collecting pressure. In the cases of C. lichangense and C. lentigenosum, the situation maybe even more severe since they are more coveted by enthusiasts. I'm glad to hear you are getting yours through people who have actually artificially propagated them.

One last thing on this - please don't support sellers of wild collected Cyps, especially these ultra rare ones. If a plant is really cheap, it is very likely wild collected. In China there yet remains tons of good habitat for many plants and the idea that you are doing them a favor by growing them is a false argument - the plants are fine in their native haunts. If you really want some of these, then by all means get some, but through reliable people like Hengduan Mountains Biotech, or the like. Rant over.

Having showcased these plants I have a responsibility to reaffirm Tom's comments. All of the plants above are from cultivated stock and are currently available as adult lab-raised plants in Europe. Cultivated Chinese cypripedium are not cheap but such plants are healthy and generally very robust. I have seen cheap wild-collected chinese Cyps for sale (in US $) on the internet. It is possible to buy multiple plants for the same price as a single cultivated plant but the attrition rate is very high and so such actions are both environmentally irresponsible and a false economy.

Perhaps it may be against forum rules (if so forgive me) but here are two links to CURRENT pricelists for lab-raised European sources of Chinese cypripedium (there are others but I have good personal experience of these two):
http://www.albiflora.be/files/docs/pricelist_1.pdf
http://www.gartenwerkstatt-schreiner.de/Cypripedium-Arten_2017.pdf

-the latter list was only released a few days ago. Christian (Schreiner) also has a few micranthum for sale though these are not listed. Jan Moors (Albiflora) has propagated C. wardii, though adult plants are not currently available. Cypripedium sichuanense is not currently commercially available from european lab-raised sources but is imported from lab-raised sources in China (Hengduan Mtns Biotech).

Unfortunately a few European vendors, whilst predominatly selling lab-raised stock do also sell plants that are wild-collected. A couple of years ago I bought a number of "young C. tibeticum" at a very reasonable price from a German source. The plan was to plant these as a group in a raised bed. I honestly believed the plants to be lab-raised seedlings a year or two from flowering. The plants were small but did not have the usual clean white roots I expected of cultivated plants and I lost more than half of them. I contacted the vendor but got no reply so I contacted another German source who told me that the vendor I had dealt with was no longer trading but was known for buying nameless chinese Cyps in bulk and selling them on under whatever name his customers desired (I am reluctant to name him on an open internet forum for obvious legal reasons). The few survivors have settled down and most flowered this year for the first time; none of them are typical tibeticum!
I hate growing plants without knowing their name. These "tibeticums" seem to variously match internet images I have seen of small-flowered calcicola, var. froschii or ludlowii, whilst one may be a natural hybrid. Sadly they are very likely to be the result of indiscriminate widespread collecting in the wild rather than the lab-raised plants I thought they were. The moral of this story is that if the price of a Chinese cypripedium is low the plant will almost definitely be wild-collected.
 

JAB

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Any sources in the US?
Would love to hear culture advice when you have the time.

Nothing wild caught should be bought. We the consumers hold all the power. Unfortunately most do not have the discipline to not support those that rape and pillage the wild.
 

Erythrone

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Glorious! Too bad these guys are so tricky in cultivation. It is good to know that at least a few people are successful growing them. It would be nice if they could be propagated and put back out into the wild since they are so damn rare. C. sichuanense for instance is so limited in geographic range and available habitat that less than 300 plants are estimated to be yet in the wild, and these are under constant collecting pressure. In the cases of C. lichangense and C. lentigenosum, the situation maybe even more severe since they are more coveted by enthusiasts. I'm glad to hear you are getting yours through people who have actually artificially propagated them.

One last thing on this - please don't support sellers of wild collected Cyps, especially these ultra rare ones. If a plant is really cheap, it is very likely wild collected. In China there yet remains tons of good habitat for many plants and the idea that you are doing them a favor by growing them is a false argument - the plants are fine in their native haunts. If you really want some of these, then by all means get some, but through reliable people like Hengduan Mountains Biotech, or the like. Rant over.

Thanks for having written such comments. I wish it could change behavior of some orchids enthousiasts.
 
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