Podochilus scalpelliformis

Podochilus scalpelliformis Blume, Rumphia 4 (1849) 45, pl. 194, fig. 4, pl. 200C

Type: Zippel s.n. (New Guinea) (holo L)

Small epiphyte with tufted, stiff, unbranched stems, 8-20 cm tall. Leaves with overlapping sheaths, to 1.2-1.5 by 0.2-0.3 cm, gradually decreasing in size towards the stem apex, bilaterally compressed, obtuse or pointed; blades articulated with the sheaths. Inflorescences lateral or terminal, gradually elongating and producing flowers one or two at a time, finally up to 3 cm long, but usually much less. Flower about 0.2 cm long. Sepals fused at the base, forming a broad tube, apices obtuse, apiculate. Median sepal 0.16 by 0.11 cm, ovate. Lateral sepals 0.2 by 0.11 cm, oblong; mentum 0.5 cm long, rhomboid-saccate, obtuse. Petals 0.1 by 0.11 cm, very broadly ovate, with a much narrower and very short claw, ventral margins erose, apex truncate. Lip 0.18 by 0.1 cm, clawed, the claw short, linear; blade oblong-ovate, fleshy, channeled, at the base with two small fleshy auricles parallel with and about as long as the claw; apex broadly obtuse. Column 0.11 cm long, broad; rostellum very long, slender, bifid. Pollinia in two pairs; viscidium single, long and slender, hyaline. (After O’Byrne, 1994)

Colours: Leaves dark green, purple in plants growing in exposed positions. Flower white with purple blotches on the tips of the petals and lip. The whole flower turns yellow with age.

Habitat: Epiphyte in lowland and lower montane forest, sometimes lithophytic on limestone cliffs; 0 to 1100 m.

Flowering time in the wild: Flowering observed in every month of the year.

Distribution: Malesia (Moluccas, New Guinea).

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua (Indonesia); Papua New Guinea. See map: 568-119M.JPG.

Cultivation: Warm growing epiphyte, requires shaded position.

Notes: This common lowland orchid is easily distinguished from other New Guinea species of Podochilus by the bilaterally flattened leaves. Some New Guinea species of Octarrhena show a similar growth habit, but the white urn-shaped flowers of Podochilus scalpelliformis are very different from the widely opening yellowish or orange flowers seen in Octarrhena.