Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Friday, April 23, 2010

Legacy Orchid

The Dove orchid buds opened this morning - clusters of perfect white blooms with deep yellow throats. It belonged to my mother, and it was always a wonderful surprise to wake up and find the twiggy fronds covered with white. Something of a miracle to a child who had not yet done the math of seasons, length of daylight, temperature or rainfall into a rhythm of the earth.

The scientific name is Dendrobium Crumenatum, but it is commonly known as the dove orchid, or sometimes the pigeon orchid because as it wilts, it can look like a flying pigeon. Native to tropical Asia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, it is at home in Trinidad; and can no doubt be cultivated anywhere in the world. The blooming of my Dove is associated with the start of the rainy season in Trinidad, but in some years, it is very prolific between November and January. Its blooming is supposed to be triggered by sudden drops in temperature (10 degrees Fahrenheit, or five degrees Celsius).

When it blooms, the whole plant is covered. The flowers don't last more than a day. So when you see the pale green buds on the sprays, expect to see the flowers in the morning. By noon, they fade, and by the end of the day, are wilted. Blooms re-appear on the same stalks. The plant requires no dirt, no manure and continues to thrive completely independent of human care or attention.

This Dove orchid belonged to my mother, and hopefully will outlive me. Its blooming remains a miracle which I hope my children will treasure and enjoy.

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