Bulbophyllum’s have more than 2000 known species and is the largest genus in the orchid family. Some occur in tropical and subtropical countries around the world with the largest concentration in the Guinea areas with over 600 species to be found. Others can be found in Asia, Africa, America and Brazil. In Australia there are over 20 species and can be found in rain forest areas from northern Queensland through to the Clyde River in NSW.

bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry

Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann Buckleberry

Bulbophyllums prefer to be moist and by placing the slab flat on the bench allows water to drain less quickly from the slab, which keeps the plant moist for longer periods than if it were hung up. lMist the plants every morning during the cooler Winter months. Heavier watering is necessary in dry areas but do not water during extremely cold weather. (Cook, Terry. “Growing Orchids in Australia” Golden Press, Silverwater, NSW, 1989).

The following is an extract from Brian Milligan. “Botanists at various times have recognised both these genera but it seems that most botanists at the present time regard them all as bulbophyllums. The main difference between the two groups is that most bulbophyllums carry single flowers while those once described as cirrhopetalums carry a number of flowers grouped together on a single stem in an arrangement called an umbel, in which the flowers are grouped together on one side of the arrangement like fingers on a hand. Bulbophyllum is a widely variable genus in many respects. It includes some of the smallest species in the orchid world and some of the largest. These species are to be found in Africa, throughout India, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Australia; one species is even found in New Zealand. Most require intermediate or warm conditions of culture but a few will grow under shade-house conditions in Melbourne.

Over 1200 different species are now recognised, a vast increase on the 80 bulbophyllums and 20 cirrhopetalums known to exist in 1890, according to Veitch’s Manual of Orchidaceous Plants. In Australia there are now 26 known bulbophyllums, all found in New South Wales and Queensland. They include B. globuliforme and B. minutissimum, contenders for the smallest orchids in the world; their pseudobulbs measure no more than 2 mm across! Over 600 different species are to be found in Papua New Guinea and many others throughout the warmer parts of Asia”.  More information at Bulbophyllums and Cirrhopetalums by Brian Milligan

  • In another article by Brian Milligan and Thomas Lobb they provide further information including:

“Many bulbophyllum species have rather small, short-lived flowers. An exception is Bulbophyllum lobbii, which has relatively large flowers that measure 8-10 cm across and last up to a month in good condition. The yellow flowers, borne singly, have a hinged labellum that nods up and down in the slightest breeze, a feature designed to catch the attention of passing pollinators. The first flowers on my plants open early in January, but a few late flowers still remain as I write in late March. My plants grow and flower quite satisfactorily in a glasshouse at a minimum temperature of 11 °C but would probably do better if provided with a little more warmth in winter.

Bulbophyllum lobbii is found over quite a wide area through Asia, its habitat ranging from Malaysia, through Indonesia and Borneo to the Philippines. Thomas Lobb, an employee of the famous British nursery of Veitch and Sons, first collected the species in Malaya and Borneo. John Lindley named the species after Thomas Lobb in 1847.

The Lobb brothers, William and Thomas, were born in Cornwall and began their horticultural training in the Cornish estate of Sir Charles Lemon, whose name is perpetuated by the well-known species Coelogyne cristata var. lemoniana. In the 1830s both William and Thomas sought employment in Veitch’s nursery, which by then had established a branch in Exeter. It was destined to become (for a time) the largest nursery in Britain (and the rest of the world).” For the full article, see Bulbophyllum lobbii and Thomas Lobb by Brian Milligan.

  • See photos of Bulbophyllums in our Other Genera photo gallery.

For further information on Bulbophyllums and other orchid varieties, see the Orchid Societies Council of Victoria (OSCOV) Website under the section Articles & Resources.

  • For further information about orchid care at Southern Suburbs Orchid Society (SSOS) or membership inquiries, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

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