Dendrobium nardoides

Dendrobium nardoides Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 1 (1912) 529; 21 (1923) t. 179, fig. 668.

Type: Schlechter 18722 (holo B, lost; iso AMES, BO "18729", E, K, L "18729", NSW).

Erect tufted epiphyte, 1-7(-10) cm high, forming loose to dense clumps in moss, occasionally up to 20(-30) cm across, often with ascending habit of growth due to competition from mosses. Roots 0.4- 1 mm diameter. Rhizome usually short, sometimes elongated, to 1.2 cm long. Pseudobulbs 0.3-2.5 by 0.15-0.6 cm, ovoid to cylindrical, covered with whitish-brown aristate bracts, apex 1-4-leaved. Leaves 0.8-6 by 0.05-0.15 cm, erect to spreading, linear subulate, apex acute, channelled above, often rigid; sheaths smooth, pale green sometimes flushed purple, old sheaths persistent. Inflorescences terminal, arising from both leafy and leafless stems, 1-2-flowered, subsessile; bracts ovate to suborbicular, apiculate to aristate. Flowers 1.1-2.1 cm long, usually not widely opening. Median sepal 4.5-9.5 by 2-3 mm, oblong-lanceolate, apiculate to acuminate. Lateral sepals 11-20 by 2.2-3.5 mm, oblique oblong-lanceolate, acuminate; basal fused part 2.5-5 mm long, usually swollen (inflated), cylindrical (rarely subconical); mentum total length 5-10.5 mm, tip obtuse. Petals 4-9 by 1-2 mm, linear to oblanceolate, acute to apiculate. Lip 9.5-16 by 1-2 mm, subtrilobate, linear oblanceolate, adnate to column foot at base with upper margins incurved, apex subacute to subacuminate, usually slightly recurved. Column 1.5-2 mm long; foot 5-10.5 mm long; anther 1-1.5 mm broad pollinia c. 1 mm long. Ovary cross-section variable, usually triangular but often indistinct, sometimes 5-6-ribbed (regular); pedicel and ovary 8-17 mm long, pedicel curving backwards as fruit develops. Fruit 12 by 8 mm, ovoid.
(after Reeve & Woods, 1989).

Colours: Flowers bright purplish-pink with lip apex scarlet and mentum often whitish.

Habitat: Epiphyte in montane cloud forest, growing usually in large clumps of mosses. Altitude (1200-) 2000 to 3200 m.

Flowering time in the wild: Throughout the year.

Distribution: New Guinea.

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua New Guinea (Sandaun, Enga, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Madang, Morobe, Central & Milne Bay Provinces, including Goodenough Island). Since there is a collection from the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea (Veldkamp 6848) it very likely occurs in West New Guinea as well.

Map: NARDOMAP.JPG [Dendrobium nardoides Schltr., distribution map, redrawn from T.M. Reeve & P.J.B. Woods, Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 46 (1989) 285, map 6.]

Notes: Dendrobium nardoides is a charming dwarf species confined mainly to the high altitude montane forests and almost invariably observed growing in clumps with epiphytic mosses. Sometimes these clumps become very large and dense, and Schlechter named this species because of its likeness to Nardus stricta, the European Mat grass.

This is one of the few species in this section which show significant variation in the ovary cross-sections; from triangular to regularly 6-ribbed. The differences in the ovary sections was one of the main reasons why Schlechter separated Dendrobium nardoides and Dendrobium oligoblepharon. Reeve & Woods (1990) have tentatively included the latter in synonymy even though the altitude of origin (1200 m) is much lower than all other records, and the colour of the lip apex, according to Schlechter a luminous cinnabar-red, is slightly different.

Unlike most of the other high altitude species in section Oxyglossum, the inflorescences of Dendrobium nardoides are often single-flowered.
(after Reeve & Woods, 1989).

Cultivation: Cool growing epiphyte, prefers light position.