Day two of the new régime and already I am casting about for a suitable theme for the daily mini photo-essay … but it is Sunday and that is orchid-tending day so let’s enlighten the world about these interesting plants.

Specifically, Sigmatostalix unguiculata which those of you who also see my Facebook page will already have become acquainted with.  Last summer I was introduced to the world of really tiny orchids by a colleague who is a bit of an expert, a show judge in fact and I, who cannot resist a challenge, fell for them.  We tend to think of orchids as huge, flashy flowers from the hot and steamy tropics when in fact they grow all  over the world, often in very inhospitable and cold regions and not all of them are large and flashy by any means.  My small “starter” collection has nothing with a flower bigger than a small finger nail and they all fit into a discrete old fish tank we had in the basement.  As I learn about their needs I feel the need to have more of them – I shall take my credit card to the big Montreal orchid show next spring and see what can be found.

Anyway – the tiny Central American S. unguiculata happens to be in flower right now and will give a taste of what I am talking about.  This fellow grows on the bark of trees on the Columbian/Equadorian/Costa Rican cloud forest and gets its nourishment from the mists as soil doesn’t come into its specialised lifestyle.  Before you ask (someone already did, and it some time finding the answer) they are pollinated by equally tiny bees.

Time for a some pictures …. tiny as the flowers are they have parts shooting off at all angles and are not easy to get into focus all at once – as you will see.

Sigmatostalix unguiculata, more or less natural size - as you can see, the flowers are minute.

The flower in all its glory

But, for those who like flashy orchids, we also have some Phalaenopsis like this beauty:

A "real" orchid - one that you do not need a magnifying glass to appreciate

 

BUT … enough of these exotics, yesterday we put up the Christmas Tree and a beauty it is, just scraping in under the ceiling.  We like BIG trees at Christmas.

Christmas Tree 2011