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Plant of the Month: March 2018

Jewel Orchid
Ludisia discolor (Ker Gawl.) Bl.
= Ludisia Dawsoniana (H. Low ex Rchb. fil.) Aver.
= Hæmaria Dawsoniana H. Low ex Rchb. fil.) Hook. fil.
= Hæmaria discolor (Ker Gawl.) Lindl.
ORCHIDACEÆ ; Orchid Family

In tropical SE Asia and W Malaysia grows the Jewel Orchid, a terrestrial or granite rock-dwelling creeping dwarf orchid of moist, shady forests. It is cultivated easily in pots indoors, and is more attractive in foliage than most orchids. Its leaves are deemed the most beautiful of all orchid foliage.
    Other English common names include: Golden Lace Orchid. Blackleaf Jewel Orchid. Bloodleaf Orchid. A Chinese name, Xue ye Lan, translates Bloodleaf Orchid.
    It is the only species in genus Ludisia. Related so closely to Anœctochilus that maybe both genera and others in subtribe Goodyerinæ should be lumped under genus Goodyera.
    In 1936, Geoffrey Alton Craig Herklots wrote that Ludisia is "boiled with pork, used by the Chinese for so unromantic a purpose as curing distemper." The plant is used in traditional Chinese medicine; taken fresh, washed and chewed; or its juice drunk.
    It has not been reported edible to humans, and little food would exist in such a small plant. But the leaves would look lovely on the plate. I have not tasted them but expect that they are bitter.
    The leaves are clumping, 1 - 3.5 inches long, beautiful dark velvety green; purplish- to bloody-red beneath. The veins are striking red, silver or gold (20+ cultivars exist). Flowerstems grow 6 to 12 inches high, and are fuzzy. The flowers are white, yellow in the middle; twisted oddly; to three-fourths of an inch long; in winter; their fragrance sweet and spicy. In the wild, they are pollinated by butterflies attracted by the bright white flowers seeming to glow, in shady sites.
    My photographs show an old houseplant specimen in bloom. Growers advise planting Ludisia in in shallow, wide pans; the plants thrive ideally in terraria.

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<i>Ludisia</i>

Ludisia discolor photo by ALJ




Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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