Andean beauties in full bloom at Gardens by the Bay

The Gardens by the Bay display showcases some of the rare orchids found in the Andes mountain range of South America.
The Gardens by the Bay display showcases some of the rare orchids found in the Andes mountain range of South America.PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY
Epidendrum Medusae.
Epidendrum Medusae.PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY
Oncidium Hastilabium (left) and Lycaste Schilleriana (right).
Oncidium Hastilabium (left) and Lycaste Schilleriana (right).PHOTOS: GARDENS BY THE BAY
Cyrtochilum Macranthum (left) and Psychopsis Mariposa (right).
Cyrtochilum Macranthum (left) and Psychopsis Mariposa (right).PHOTOS: GARDENS BY THE BAY
Brassia Aurantiaca (left) and Phragmipedium Warscewiczianum (right).
Brassia Aurantiaca (left) and Phragmipedium Warscewiczianum (right).PHOTOS: GARDENS BY THE BAY

Thousands of South American beauties are gathered at Gardens by the Bay in the first orchid display of its kind in Asia. Held at the Cloud Forest, the exhibition will feature some 3,000 orchids from 85 types that are native to the Andes mountains, and will be on show till March 24 next year. Here are some of them

EPIDENDRUM MEDUSAE

Found in the moist cloud forests of Ecuador at elevations of between 1,800m and 2,700m. The deep maroon lip of the orchid, with its fringed margin, is likened to Medusa's hair of snakes, which gave rise to its common name medusa epidendrum, as well as its scientific name Epidendrum medusae.

ONCIDIUM HASTILABIUM

Found at the upper elevations of the Andes from Venezuela to Peru. The flowers open in succession and are pale green with chocolate brown bands, coupled with a white spear-shaped lip that has a rose-purple base.

LYCASTE SCHILLERIANA

This lithophyte (a plant that grows on rocks) is found in Colombia at an altitude of 1,400m. It produces a single waxy, fragrant bloom. Each spike carries a solitary flower with olive brown sepals and the flower's width can measure up to 22cm long, making this one of the largest Lycaste around.

  • Rich biodiversity of the Tropical Andes

  • Spanning thousands of kilometres across seven South American countries - Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina - the Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world.

    The rugged terrain of the Andes causes the climates of adjacent regions to differ wildly from one another: Dry cactus scrubland can be found less than 5km away from moss-covered forests. These numerous isolated habitats result in the large number of species found throughout the region.

    In this vast mosaic of peaks, valleys, forests and deserts is the Tropical Andes. An estimated 30,000 species of vascular plants, more than 1,700 species of birds and over 980 species of reptiles can be found in this region.

    Last year, Gardens by the Bay participated in the 22nd World Orchid Conference held in Guayaquil, Ecuador. While there, the team took time to visit parts of the Andes range in Ecuador where native orchids grow wild, and was inspired to showcase some of these rare orchids in Singapore. They selected blooms native to the Tropical Andes, which is renowned for its rich biodiversity.

    Source: Gardens by the Bay

CYRTOCHILUM MACRANTHUM

Occurs at elevations of up to 3,000m in the montane cloud forests of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. It produces the largest flower within the genus Cyrtochilum - the flowers can grow up to 10cm in diameter.

PSYCHOPSIS MARIPOSA

Native to Central and South America and Trinidad, the genus Psychopsis means "butterfly-like" in Greek. This hybrid flowers throughout the year. Its petals are enlarged and mimic the lip of the orchid in shape and colour, giving each flower the appearance of having three lips.

BRASSIA AURANTIACA

A high-elevation epiphyte (a plant that grows on another plant for support), it is found in Colombia and Venezuela, and pollinated by hummingbirds. The red-orange colour of the flowers, the presence of a floral tube formed by converging sepals and petals, and the lack of odour are indicative of how this orchid has adapted to being pollinated by hummingbirds.

PHRAGMIPEDIUM WARSCEWICZIANUM

The slipper orchid of tropical South America, it is found on exposed cliff surfaces at elevations of between 600m and 2,800m. The unique pouch-like lip serves as a trap to enable pollinating insects to complete their task. Most slipper orchids have downward-pointing hairs in their pouch that allow insects to crawl down into the pouch, but not back up the same way. In order to exit the pouch, the insects have to go by another path that forces them to come into contact with sticky pollen packets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2018, with the headline 'Andean beauties in full bloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe