Be sure and buy this beautiful
native orchid from a CITES dealer and not from the side of the road!
The ‘monkey hand’ or ‘tarantula leg’ (Dendrobium senile,
Orchidaceae) is one of the last orchids to bloom at the end of the Christian
year. The Thai new year is in April, and so this orchid could also be
considered the pioneer of the upcoming flowering season. Many other native
monsoon orchids are dormant now. Even the boxer orchid (Dendrobium
ellipsophyllum) which has been in loyal blossom at Dokmai Garden since May,
has gone to bed due to the cold and the drought. You should better leave
your local northern Thai orchids asleep for a while now, no more watering.
The scientific name ‘senile’ is derived from Latin ‘senex’ meaning ‘old
man’, alluding to the white hairs of the pseudobulbs which look like the
hair of an old man. Tarantula leg is also very descriptive.
The distribution is quite limited, only found in the mountain ranges of
Thailand, Laos and Burma. Being conspicuous it is highly sought for by
jungle thieves who sell these orchids by illegal roadside stands for a few
Baht.You should better buy a legal clone from a CITES certified dealer.
It normally grows at elevations higher than Chiang Mai city (350 meters),
but with misting during the hot season it should be fine. The flowers
usually emerge on the brightest side of the pseudobulb.