Arundina graminifolia is a terrestrial wild orchid that is commonly found in Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and throughout Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, we can find them growing wild in the road cuts and other disturbed areas along roadsides where there is full sun.
Today, I am so very happy to write about Malaysia's wildflower which also happens to be an orchid!
I have seen the most beautiful version during a recent trip to Genting Highlands in January this year. It is indeed growing wild by the roadside and I just can't take my eyes off it. Neither can I forget the incredible encounter of this gorgeous, exotic beauty.
It reminds me of a song sung by one of my favourite Taiwanese singers, the late Theresa Teng, "Don't Pick The Wildflowers By The Roadside" (路边的野花不要采 - Lu4 bian1 de ye3 hua1 bu2 yao4 cai3). It is a song about a gentleman who is leaving the village. His girlfriend who is sending him off requests him not to forget her. She also reminds him not to fool around with the "sweet young ladies" (the 'wildflowers') whom he may meet in the outside world!
Well, can you pass the test when face to face with such a beauty?
Scientifc name: Arundina graminifolia
Synonyms: Arundina bambusifolia Lindl., Bletia graminifolia D.Don, Arundina speciosa Blume
Common name: Bamboo Orchid, Tapah Weed, Kinta Weed, Bird Orchid
Malay name: Orkid Buluh
Family : Ochidaceae
Native to: Southeast Asia
Distribution: India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South China, Indonesia,
Introduced to and naturalised in: Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama
The generic name is derived from the Greek word (1) 'arundo' in reference to the reed-like stems of the plant and the Latin words (3) 'gramineus' (grass-like) and 'folius' (leaf).
In places where there is rapid development, the clearing of jungles and cutting of hill slopes for roads and housing have resulted in bare open slopes with too little topsoil for trees to grow. Within 2 years or so, these barren land will be covered with wild grass, ferns and hardy shrubs like the senduduk (Melasstoma malabathricum). In 5 or 6 years time, there will be colonies of Arundina graminifolia.
In Cameron Highlands, it can be found growing wild by the roadside. Colonies of it has also been spotted along the Malaysian North-South highway, particularly near the Perak stretch. Some of the wild ones may be more than 6 ft tall.
I found many photography 'models' during my recent trip to Genting Highlands. In the above picture, the arundinas were growing wild at slopes along the highway near to the Lim Goh Tong (Genting Highlands founder) Final Resting Place and Memorial building halfway up.
This picture is taken near the entrance of the Seri Malaysia Hotel, Genting Highlands at the Goh Tong Jaya township.
As we know, there are 2 main types of orchids :
a) epiphytic orchids which are grown in pieces of bricks and charcoal, and
b) terrestrial orchids like the arundina which grow and flower on the ground.
I think their pinkish purple flowers look like those of the cattleya orchid that I am growing at home. It has a tubular lip that is of a darker purple than the sepals and petals. The flowers are slightly fragrant and last for about 3 days. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.
According to Wikipedia (2), this species is close to extinction in Singapore, with only 200 of the plant recorded growing naturally there. This problem it seemed, was largely caused by the destruction of its natural habitat, namely the rainforests and mangrove swamps.
There are many more arundinas, some at the Chin Swee Temple and also around the Genting Highlands Outdoor Theme Park areas. The elevation here is 1,760 metres (5,770 ft) above sea level.
The arundina in the picture above is planted beside the statue of Sha Wujing, (translated as Friar Sand or Sandy), a character in the Tang Dynastic Chinese epic, "Journey to the West". He was previously a Great General from heaven who 'folds the curtain' but was banished to the mortal realm for dropping and shattering a crystal goblet belonging to the Heavenly Queen Mother.
The above arundina is planted at the rooftop Secret Garden of 1-Utama. Dr. Francis Ng has successfully grown them there and he also has the dwarf version of the arundina. I shall be posting pictures of the dwarf arundina in my next Wordless Wednesday post.
Some orchid lovers have dug out the arundinas from their natural habitat and transferred them to their own homes in an attempt to grow them. A few are successful where many have failed.
I have read that if the conditions (e.g. soil, watering and sun exposure) are right, it can thrive and it will bloom throughout the year. Arundinas prefer well-drained soil, 50-70% lighting, high humidity and good air circulation. The soil should be consistently moist. Do not let it dry out between waterings. Low or poor light conditions will result in failure to bloom.
Here in Malaysia, I have seen this plant for sale at the local nureries and Floria flower show.
In Singapore, Woon Leng Nursery has the plant for sale. Check out this link.
The seeds are also available in Hilo, Hawaii. Check out Dave's Garden here.
(1) cuba-orchids.com - Taxonomy and Nomenclature, check here.
(2) Wikipedia - please click here.
(3) Orchid Species Bulletin published by the Orchid Species Society, which is based in Brisbane, Queensland in September 2009 - please click this webpage.
See also more photos and read about the love affair with this orchid in the Orchid Lovers Forum: Arundina graminifolia, The Tall and Short Varieties. Click here.
My post today is dedicated to Lotusleaf from India, of Garden Tropics blog. I do enjoy visiting the "wild garden in the tropics" and I can certainly "find peace and tranquility" whenever I look at the beautiful pictures of exotic flowers, foliage and wildlife posted there. Hope you enjoy your visit to Garden Tropics too.