Dendrobium brassii

Dendrobium brassii T.M.Reeve & P.Woods, Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 46 (1989, publ. 1990) 238, fig. 24, pl. 13a.

Type: Carr 16838 (holo BM).

Erect to pendent, tufted epiphyte, 8-22 cm high. Roots to 1.5 mm diameter. Rhizome short, occasionally elongated if plants growing in moss. Pseudobulbs 0.5-2.5 (-5) by 0.4-1.2 cm, shortly fusiform to ovoid with central node contracted, occasionally elongated, rugose, apex 1(-2)-leaved. Leaves 5-16 by 0.4-1.3 cm, erect to spreading or pendent, distinctly petiolate, narrowly lanceolate, apex acute, green sometimes suffused purplish; sheaths to 4.5 cm long, cylindrical, petioliform, purplish. Inflorescences terminal on defoliated pseudobulbs, subsessile, 2-flowered; bracts ovate, apiculate. Flowers 2.2-3.2 cm long, lasting c.6 months. Median sepal 9-14 by 4.5-6.5 mm, ovate-elliptic acute. Lateral sepals 275 by 8-14 mm, triangular, acute to apiculate; basal fused part 5-8 mm long, subconical; mentum total length 13-18 mm, tip bilobed or obtuse. Petals 9-13 by 2.5-4 mm, oblong-obovate, acute to apiculate. Lip 19-26 by 3.5-4.5 mm, simple to subtrilobate, linear-oblanceolate, adnate to column foot at base with apical margins incurved, without a cross-ridge, apex not recurved, acute to apiculate. Column c.4 by 3.5 mm foot 13-18 mm long; anthers c. 3 mm broad; pollinia c. 1.8 mm long. Ovary 5(-6)-winged, three dorsal wings t undulate; pedicel and ovary 20-28 mm long. Fruit not observed.
(after Reeve & Woods, 1989).

Colours: Roots white with orange tips. Flowers pink to violet with lip apex orange.

Habitat: Epiphyte in exposed Nothofagus and Castanopsis forest. Altitude 1500 to 2200 m.

Flowering time in the wild: June, July, September, December.

Distribution: New Guinea.

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua New Guinea (Central Province, Oro Province, Milne Bay Province).

Map: BRASSMAP.JPG [Dendrobium brassii T.M.Reeve & P.Woods, distribution map, redrawn from T.M. Reeve & P.J.B. Woods, Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 46 (1989) 288, map 14.]

Notes: Dendrobium brassii has similar flowers to those of Dendrobium violaceum, but differs in the 1(-2)-leaved pseudobulbs and the lanceolate leaves which are distinctly petiolate. From Dendrobium petiolatum it differs in the narrower leaves, in the subsessile 2-flowered inflorescences and in the larger size of the flowers.

Dendrobium brassii was first collected by C. E. Carr in December 1935, only a few months before his untimely death from black water fever. As both Carr and his Tamil assistant Mayandy have already been honoured in specific epithets within Dendrobium, Reeve and Woods choose the present species to commemorate L. J. Brass, the most prolific of all plant collectors in New Guinea. He was the second person to collect this species, from Mt. Dayman at the eastern end of its known range, during the Fourth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea in 1953.

The habit of growth of Dendrobium brassii appears to be a little straggly, especially when growing in moss, somewhat reminiscent of the habit of Dendrobium aurantiroseum (P.Royen ex) T.M.Reeve of sect. Pedilonum.

Cultivation: Intermediate to cool growing epiphyte. This species has been in cultivation at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh since 1968. It has been grown vertically on a piece of fern slab, successfully but slowly, and has been reluctant to flower. It does not appear to pose any problems in cultivation.
(after Reeve & Woods, 1989)