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Beginning With Cymbidium Species

For many orchid growers species orchids hold a special attraction, no less so when it comes to species cymbidiums.species
There is a special attraction to species cymbidiums and although they don’t appeal to everyone, many growers appreciate their natural beauty, varied flower forms and the variety of size, habit and flowering times. From the species Cym dayanum and erythrostylum which flower in early to mid autumn, through to cymbidiums suave, madidum and canaliculatum which flower through late spring to early summer, species cymbidiums can reward their growers with flowers for almost the whole year.

The majority of cymbidium species need little if any special treatment above what would be provided for any cymbidium hybrid and most species are readily available with a little searching and patience. While most may not feature in orchid nursery catalogues, they are often available from other species collectors among cymbidium club members and divisions, mericlones and seedlings do come up from time to time.


speciesIt is not my intention to attempt the definitive work on cymbidium species in this article, (it would take much more space than several issues would allow and anyway there are several outstanding books and web sites which provide much more information than I could) rather to provide enough information to dispel any doubts a new grower of cymbidium species may have about giving them a try and to describe some of the more commonly available and easily grown species.

Many of the most commonly available cymbidium species originate from highland areas in India, (Sikkim, Assam, Khasia Hills), Nepal, Burma, Northern Thailand, Vietnam and southern China, at altitudes ranging from 400 to 3000 metres above sea level. At these altitudes the climate range is generally moist temperate. While some cymbidium species do grow in natural habitats closer to sub tropical we will not be discussing those in this article.

For anyone contemplating adding cymbidium species to their collection there are a number of species which provide an ideal starting point due to their general availability and or the fact that they are no more demanding culturally than cymbidium hybrids. The species described in the following paragraphs are some of those.

Cymbidium tracyanum is one species commonly available and is usually seen on club benches in April or May depending on which state you live in.Arguably the most distinctive of the species, Cym tracyanum is easilyrecognized by it’s twisted petals and sepals and it’s distinctive spotted and stripedpatterning.

speciesspeciesFlowers are generally cream to greenish heavily overlaid with reddishbrown to dark red and it’s labellum is whitespotted with purple/red. Cym tracyanum is a large growing plant with long arching spikes carrying fifteen or so large flowers. Specimen sized plants with multiple spikes can look quite stunning. Beware of an old primary hybrid which is still quite common and is often incorrectly labeled as Cym tracyanum. It flowers in August to September and has more pinkish colored flowers. Although the flowers resemble Cym. tracyanum in shape it is not Cym. tracyanum. Culturally, Cym. tracyanum will grow and flower under the same conditions which suit cymbidium hybrids.


speciesCymbidium lowianum a personal favorite and is the cornerstone for many early hybrids.
The striking red vee on Cym lowianums labellum can still be clearly seen in the labellum’s of many of today’s hybrids. Cym. lowianum is a moderate sized plant which carries arching spikes of largish flowers of around fifteen to eighteen in number. There are three color forms of Cym. lowianum, the type form having green petals and sepals often with a bronzy overlay, the labellum is white with a bold red vee. There is also an album form where the flowers are clean apple green and the white labellum has a yellow vee .

speciesThe third form, originally known as Cym. I’ansonii, is colored mid way between the other two, it’s labellum carrying the same pattern, but colored an orangey yellow. Like Cym. tracyanum, lowianum grows under the same conditions as most cymbidium hybrids.

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