Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Epidendrum porpax - or is it?

About a year ago, as covered in this post, you might remember that we added what was called Epidendrum porpax to our collection at OOAB. To refresh your memory, the little bare root plant looked like this:
Epidendrum (Neolehmannia) porpax peperomia
Apparently, however, this is not the correct name for this plant, and it should be called Epidendrum peperomia. Here's a link to the profile on IOSPE. For a while, plants in this group were placed in Neolehmannia, before the taxonomists (at least for the time being...) decided it was better lumped into Epidendrum. I wasn't sure why it ended up as peperomia, or if porpax was even valid any more; I suspected it was either earlier described (and overlooked) as peperomia, or they decided that porpax is something else. So I turned to google, which yielded the IOSPE page on the still valid E. porpax, which states:
Hagsater has separated E porpax and E peperomia and states that the differences are that E peperomia has an orbicular-cordiform lip that is wider than long, has an obtuse apes and is known only from Colombia and Venezuela while E porpax has a reniform to sub-orbicular-subquadrate, slightly convex, apically rounded, shortly emarginate and erose dentate.
Great, thanks botanists, because I don't even know what most of those terms mean (actually, I do, but only because I did quite a bit of taxonomy, just not with plants; it's easy enough to look them up on google). The problem with such terms is applying them to a different group, when such terms can be quite subjective! The true porpax (sensu Hagsater*) also seems to be fragrant, wheras no fragrance is noted for peperomia. Forget the description, go and have a look at the photo of it on IOSPE and you'll see it's clearly different. I also wonder if the word "apes" is a typo for "apex", but it's on both the IOSPE peperomia and porpax pages (still, it's probably copy/paste between them, so errors carry!). In any case, the important point is that it seems most (if not all) the plants in cultivation are Epidendrum peperomia. The latest AOS Orchids magazine has an article where these plants are labeled peperomia with a note that they were previously porpax. Time to relabel!

Aside from the taxonomic intrigue, the real reason for this post was it's finally decided to bloom, after spending the last year forming a nice green mat in the pot I placed it in. I think it would actually be better on some sort of saucer, raft or plaque than a pot, but that's where it lives for now.

I grow mine right on the windowsill, where it gets a bit of (net/sheer curtain filtered) afternoon sun, and mist it pretty much daily (with RO water with a tiny amount of MSU formulation fertiliser in - always considerably less than 100┬ÁS when I've measured it, but essentially the very tip of a teaspoon in a litre of water; most of my plants that like moisture and all the bare root/mounted plants get a blast of this at least once a day; twice if it's hot). It's potted in primarily bark with a little moss added to the top layer.

Epidendrum peperomia
First bloom to open

Epidendrum peperomia
Lateral view
Sometimes, I think it's interesting to take a slightly different view of flowers than the conventional face-on we usually see, particularly as I'm not documenting these things for scientific purposes, which demand a certain presentation (at least they do in fish, the group I'm somewhat familiar with the taxonomic requirements of!). Here is the back of the flower above:

Epidendrum peperomiaRear view

Here's what one of the buds looks like just as it's about to open:

Epidendrum peperomia
Bud
It has quite a few more buds to open, so I'm hoping it will put on a decent show by the next EPOS meeting in March (and not stubbornly have already finished by then). I rather like the creeping green foliage of this little plant, and it seems a worthy addition to the collection of anyone who likes miniature orchids. Finally, I leave you with a somewhat less close up picture so you can see the lovely leaves:

Epidendrum peperomia
With foliage
*Icones Orchidacearum, Fascicle 13: The Genus Epidendrum, Part 9: Species New & Old in Epidendrum