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Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum)

Did you know the magnificent Tiger Orchid may only bloom once every 2-4 years? Don’t worry — we’ve captured this Supertree Grove beauty in full bloom for everyone working from home!

Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum)

  • The Queen of Orchids, Grammatophyllum speciosum, is the largest orchid species in the world. With huge, clump-forming plants weighing as much as two tonnes, it has flower stalks of up to 3 metres long, and a bloom time of up to two months! Native to Southeast Asia, from Myanmar through Malaysia, this warm-growing epiphyte thrives on sturdy tree branches in forests at elevations of 100 to 1,200 metres.

     

     

  • What do you see in the dark brown floral spots and blotches? Letters and numbers? Stripes and streaks? The genus name Grammatophyllum comes from the Greek words for ‘letter’ and ’leaf’ – petals evolved from modified leaves! The common name ‘tiger orchid’ also alludes to the floral markings and their resemblance to brown and orange tiger stripes!

     

     

  • Not only are the patterns on each flower as unique as a fingerprint, each flowering stalk also bears two types of flowers! Most are fertile and scentless, though at the base of each stalk there are a few lip-less ones that are sterile and fragrant! The strong perfume of the sterile flowers attracts carpenter bees which pollinate the fertile blooms. This strategy may help the plant conserve resources as much energy would otherwise be spent producing fully fertile, scented flowers on the entire inflorescence.

    Find this huge, blooming tiger orchid behind Supertree Observatory at Supertree Grove, as well as smaller plants at the base of several of our Supertrees!

     

  • This article is part of our What's Blooming series.


Written by: Ng Yu Qin, Horticulturist (Research and Horticulture)
Yu Qin is always looking for ways to pick up new skills and put them to use. She spends most of her time with orchids and enjoys learning something new about them every day!

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