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Dendrochilum cobbianum Rchb.f. 1880
pronounced: den-droh-KY-lum kob-ee-AH-num
(Orchidaceae – the orchid family)
common name: Cobb’s Dendrochilum
Dendrochilum is from the Greek δενδρον (dendron), a tree, χειλος (cheilos), a lip; cobbianum is named for Walter Cobb (1835-1922), English orchid grower who first flowered this species.
This is an epiphytic orchid occuring in the Philippines, on the islands of Luzon and Mindanao. It is occasionally found as a terrestrial in exposed conditions and in mossy forests, and has also been seen growing on a rock in full sun. It is a robust plant, and grows quickly. Each pseudobulb grows one large leaf. The pseudobulbs cluster on a short rhizome and are fusiform to slenderly ellipsoidal in shape. The pseudobulbs are covered with 4-6 cataphylls while they are growing, but the cataphylls disintegrate into persistent fibres as the pseudobulbs mature.
The flowers are produced on new growth; the wiry inflorescence starts growing upwards, then turns in an acute angle, then finally droops straight down, growing its flowers in a zigzag pattern on a stem about 50 cm long.
The individual flowers are small, but they are produced abundantly: it is not uncommon for a specimen plant to have over 1,000 flowers. The flowers are highly scented; they are fragrant in some varieties, but smell of urine in others! They are white to green-white with yellow throats.
There are several cultivars available:
- ‘Chartreuse Sentinel’ has large flowers and sturdy, succulent leaves;
- ‘Fat Leaf’ has chartreuse flowers with a yellow lip;
- ‘Gold Chain’ has glittering, golden, fragrant flowers;
- ‘Green white’ has long spikes of fragrant green-white flowers;
- ‘Sentinel 1’ has yellow flowers;
- ‘Sentinel’s Poco’ has miniature creamy flowers with a yellow lip;
- ‘Yellow Sentinel’ has a yellow flower with a darker yellow lip.
This is one of the most commonly seen Dendrochilum in cultivation.
When grown well, this will quickly become a specimen plant and can double in size each year. It is generally quite easy to grow.
After it has finished flowering, it likes a short period of rest, being allowed to dry out slightly between waterings for a fortnight or so, after which normal watering can be resumed.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2013
Page last updated 12th November 2016