Dendrobium aries

Dendrobium aries J.J.Sm., Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg, sér. 2, 13 (1914) 64; Nova Guinea 12, 3 (1916) 324, t. 117, fig. 214.

Type: Odenthal cult. s.n. (New Guinea, Locality ?) (holo BO; iso L? (no data)).

An epiphytic plant. Stems cane-like, up to 3 m long. Leaves oblong, obliquely obtuse at unequally bilobed apex, 12-18 by 4.5-8 cm. Inflorescences rather densely 25-40-flowered, 16-40 cm long; bracts elliptic, acute, 4 mm long. Flowers c. 3-5 cm long and wide; pedicel and ovary 4 cm long, inserted on a pulvinus. Dorsal sepals oblong-ovate, obtuse, apiculate, 2.2 by 0.8 cm; lateral sepals oblique, oblong-lanceolate, apiculate, 2.3-2.8 by 0.8-1 cm; mentum conical, 10-13 mm long. Petals spathulate, obtuse or rounded, 1.9-3.8 by 0.45-0.8 cm, once or twice-twisted. Lip 3-lobed, 1.9-3.8 by 1.35-1.8 cm; side-lobes obliquely elliptic, rounded or obtuse; midlobe suborbicular to obovate apiculate, 1-1.3 by 1 cm; callus of three ridges, the outer two decurrent, the central one raised and undulate at apex on basal half of midlobe to form an oblong lamella. Column 5-7 mm long, apical auricles bidentate.
(after Cribb, 1986).

Colours: Sepals brown with yellow margins, petals chestnut brown, shiny; lip yellow, with a violet callus and violet veins.

Habitat: Presumably epiphytic, always in exposed positions near the coast. Altitude: below 100 m.

Distribution: New Guinea.

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua (Waigeo, Salawati, Vogelkop Peninsula); perhaps also in Papua New Guinea (see Notes below).

Map: ARIESMAP.JPG [Dendrobium aries J.J.Sm., distribution map, redrawn from P. Cribb, Kew Bull. 41 (1986) 650, map 5.]

Notes: Dendrobium aries is probably most closely allied to Dendrobium conanthum both species having similarly coloured flowers with a single raised lamella on the midlobe of the rather open lip. Dendrobium aries can be distinguished, however, by its scarcely recurved midlobe which is as broad as long, blunt and shortly apiculate at the apex. Its petals are suberect, rounded at the apex and once or twice twisted but not contorted or reflexed. A further distinction from Dendrobium conanthum is the lack of rugulose ridges at right angles to the venation on the lip side lobes. Smith (1915) suggested that it might be related to Dendrobium odoardii but that species is itself somewhat enigmatic.

The above comparison is based on the published descriptions and illustrations of J.J. Smith and van Bodegom. Cribb (1986) has seen living cultivated material probably ascribable to Dendrobium aries in the Bogor Botanic Gardens and two herbarium specimens from Papua New Guinea (Cruttwell 575 and NGF (Henty) 16899 ) which may also belong here. These have rather smaller flowers than the West New Guinea plants, less twisted petals and a callus in which the middle ridge is abruptly dilated and not undulate.
(after Cribb, 1986).

Cultivation: Warm growing epiphyte, prefers light position?.