Ludisia: Notes on the most common Jewel orchid.
Ludisia: Notes on the most common Jewel orchid. The Genus Ludisia also known as Haemaria, originally named for its deep red color is known primarily from the single variety, Ludisia discolor Var. Dawsoniana. A relic cultivar of the Victorian age; grown along side of potted palms, African violets and maiden hair ferns in solariums. This specie was named discolor, of another color, that color being velvet burgundy for the variety Dawsoniana but is from purple to orange brown in the standard specie. Ranging from southern China south to Indonesia, this species is adapted to the dry winter (40F, 5C) and the hot wet spring, summer and fall (90F, 34C). Ludisia is one of the warmest growing jewel orchids. The winter months are from November to February, when the plant bloom producing white flowers. Seed capsules mature in 3 to 4 weeks, opening to let the seeds drift away before the spring rains. Ludisias can dry to the point of leaf wilt then loss, which will not kill them, then root in a glass of water. The odd leaf color is explained when you see these plants and most other jewel orchids, in situ. The forest floor, over hung with trees, a carpet of moss and decomposing leaves all in shades of browns and oranges with bleaching veins; camouflage. Ludisia discolor Var. alba compared to Ludisia discolor Var. Dawsoniana has green leaves not burgundy, more shoots that are less recumbent then any other type. Far more veins which are branched not just 3 veins, the veins are golden not red or pink, the leaves are thinner, the flowers are more numerous,white and slightly smaller as well. In the fall, Ludisia discolor Var. alba, goes dormant were the leaves blush orange and some wither and fall. Varity alba is a term assoiated with abnormally white flowers to contrast the grex with the standard form. In the case of Ludisia discolor Var. alba it seems to suggest that this plant is actually a standard Ludisia discolor without the typical burgundy pigmentation, however the differences are beyond just leaf color. Ludisia discolor Var. nigra, the black jewel orchid, compared to Ludisia discolor Var. Dawsoniana has deep purple to black leaves not burgundy, few shoots, No veins but a white midrib, the leaves are thick and few, the flowers are less numerous, white but about the same size as the standard type. In winter the oldest leaf might discolor a little and be lost but other wise the plant just blooms a bit later then Var. Dawsoniana. The above are the three mostly likely forms of Ludisia encountered today. I tend to think that most of the orchid species in cultivation were collected by a guy in a white suit, smoking a pipe, after a short walk and/or were the only ones that survived the trip back to the greenhouse. Given time and selfings of that orchid, better forms are grown or made. In the case of the Ludisia discolor forms I figured the plants been multiplied by cuttings for most of its history; so there might genotype that could be brought out into phenotypes by a self. By Bluemossguy 5/5/2007, edit 8/21/07
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