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The 'other' fire orchid

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Renanthera - those orchids that know only yellows, oranges, and, more prominently, megawatt reds. Among the red-flowered species, the one that is most often discussed is R. storiei ; rightfully so, because this species bear some of the most saturated reds anyone can ever see on any orchid, whether natural or man-made. However, less often given credit for is R. philippinensis - a smaller species, but equally capable of producing the most incandescent reds.  Renanthera philippinensis was originally described as a variety of R. storiei by both Oakes Ames and Eduardo Quisumbing in 1932. Five years later, Louis O. Williams elevated the taxon to species rank, saying "There is no doubt but that Renanthera philippinensis is quite distinct from Renanthera storiei Reichb.f. Ames and Quisumbing pointed out in the original description of R. storiei var. philippinensis that the type of their varietal concept differs radically from the species in its small stature, small leaves and flowers,

The succulents went silent

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 Just a few years ago, succulents were the horticultural world's kings. Now, they're in the backseat, unceremoniously dethroned by the new royalties- the notorious aroids. What happened? In a nutshell: Aroids and COVID-19. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. In the years prior, up to 2019, succulents were the darlings of collectors and a sure money-in-the-bank for the great majority of growers. Everybody were hooked, from the most rabid squirrels to the greenhorns, from interior designers to casual shoppers who only chanced upon some whilst doing their rounds around the metro. Succulents are an informal group, encompassing an impressive range of families from the mighty Cactaceae to the ubiquitous Crassulaceae and Euphorbiaceae to the curious stapeliads from the family Apocynaceae , to specialized Aizoaceae . And then there are the caudiciforms and the honorary succulents from otherwise non-succulent families, such as in those of the Asparagaceae , Bromeliaceae , Gesneriace

What is the perfect Alocasia mix?

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I acquired my first Alocasia sinuata from one of the stalls at the now-defunct (or destroyed) Manila Seedling Bank Foundation in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City about 2006 or 2007, though my first Alocasia was likely an A. boyceana , from 2001. Back then, I maintained the plants in the soil they were in, which was mainly coco 'peat' and rice hulls; this is the default potting mix across thousands upon thousands of nurseries in operation within the Philippines, then and now. The plants perished not long after. Already at that period, I was already studying plants in their native habitats and knew that I was missing something. I had to get an idea of how they were growing in their habitats if I wanted to put an end to those episodes when the plants would suddenly fade to smelly goo despite my adoring attention. The opportunity to observe A. sinuata in the wild came in February 2010: all the plants in the wild were growing on rocks, specifically limestone, with very thin layers of de

Last words for this year

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During the closing days of 2019 and all the years before it that I can remember, there was no shortage of wishes for a better new year. I won't be telling you about my hopes for the coming year because, to be honest, I have none. Human will and wants are inconsequential in this great cog of events that happen simply because they happen. Was 2020 really THAT bad? Or is it only a trick of false perspective because most of us weren't yet alive when those great wars laid down immeasurable misery and that there is no way of knowing if the coming years would be worse? Whether we admit it or not, it only gets more and more dreadful each passing year. Calamities are increasing in frequency and destructive power and the degradation of human behavior translates to new lows which we never thought we'd witness a mere few years before. And, everybody dies. Whether he's an athlete for the ages or your next door bum, everybody is heading towards that inevitable finality. It's all

Alocasia vs Colocasia

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So what is the difference between Alocasia and Colocasia (apart from the spelling 😁)? This is one of the questions I wondered during my early years of collecting plants, and I must admit that I have interchanged both during some random discussions with other plantspeople. And while the matter has been resolved for me a long time ago, I totally understand the confusion it still brings to today's hobbyists. Unfortunately, the similarities are much more easily observed than their differences, which require scrutiny by a discerning eye, one which botanists commonly possess but not by most other mortals. Cheer up, lemme show you the way. Above: Alocasia or Colocasia ? Really, you only have to take the time to look under the leaf surfaces of your plants. Alocasia have glands situated at the axils of the midrib and the primary (main) lateral veins. These are absent in Colocasia . The fruits of both also differ. In Alocasia , the berries are large and ripen to deep orange, whereas the

Leonardo Co and Mycaranthes leonardoi

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In late 2008, botanist Ulysses Ferreras approached and asked me if I could assist him in describing two orchid species that he found, with a very special request: that one of the two will be named after Leonardo Co. The orchids in question were from two genera, Mycaranthes and Robiquetia , and Uly suggested that the latter bear Leonard's name. I expressed disagreement, arguing that doing so would rob the orchid of identity because it will then carry the name of two persons- an idiosyncrasy on my part, I must admit. So we ended up with the combination of ' Mycaranthes leonardoi ', with the Robiquetia bestowed with the name of ' Robiquetia enigma '. At this point, I would like to draw attention to the fact that during my active years in orchidology, I have made it a matter of principle to keep to a minimum the number of people I would like to honor in my species descriptions, and that these people should have had at least some direct involvement in these species. Leo

Pothos dolichophyllus in habitat

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Like an old buddy who I'd like to visit every now and then, these wild Pothos dolichophyllus have become a much-favored plant too see every time I take one of those many silent hikes. Yep, an old buddy that requires you to clamber up cliffs 😅 Most of you might be familiar with the so-called ' Pothos ' in cultivation, but those really are variations and cultivars of the commonly cultivated Epipremnum aureum . True Pothos are unrelated and very seldom seen in cultivation: most, if not all, species are true jungle plants that require forest conditions and can be notoriously difficult to root from cuttings.   Now, some of you might remark the Anthurium -ish foliage, particularly the veining. It's because both Anthurium and Pothos are relatives: they belong to the aroid subfamily Pothoideae . While Anthurium is Neotropical and contains the largest assemblage of species of any aroid genus, both Pothos and Pothoidium are Old World representatives of the subfamily. Pothos d