Orchid of the Month for April, 2018
By Daniel Pfarr
No other orchid has the distinction as having the best name. It wouldn’t be the best name if there was another orchid right? The absolute delight I take in being twelve years old when I used to get when asked to see my Podangis. You want to see my Podangis?
Much like the rest of the Aerangidinae, it has a correspondent name: (Greek podos, foot, and angos, vessel). The pronounced finger of the nectary looks filled with a nectar. It best fits in with the Aeragidinae based on the rostellum and pollina set. The flowers are a translucent white with a green anther. Each of the flowers are borne on successively shorter pedicels so that flowers on the bottom of the spike protrude farther out than those of the end of the spike. Growing this species to a specimen is a rewarding venture. The density of flowers obscures much of the plant base.
In addition to the great flower display, the sharp structural foliage makes it a worthwhile addition to the collection when out of flower. The succulent leaves are arranged in fan like position and produce offsets readily. These fleshy leaves are susceptible to rot in the winter. I grow my plants in open pots with maybe a large chunk of bark. I’ve grown them in a small bark, charcoal, and perlite mix for Gold Country Orchids. With this type of growing, summer growth requires a bit more watering. The watering schedule needed to be matched to an airy spot in to make sure the plant dries out. This is a crucial issue as they get larger, they need even more air movement as there can be pockets of moisture left where the air doesn’t reach in the winter. Reducing watering to only warmer days where you can be sure it will be dry by evening in the winter is good orchid culture anyways. Keeping any dead leaves groomed from the plant is also recommended. They can be grown mounted and the pictures I have seen of them in-situ they are growing on lichen covered branches with strong sun exposure. I grow these in bright light, strong enough to bloom a Cattleya.
Podangis is found along the Gulf of Guinea and to the east to Tanzania. There is said to be more members of the genus, though I’ve been actively keeping my eyes open for imports for years. Most of the African plants imported come from Madagascar and we suffer being able to grow and preserve some of the Angraecoids found in the mainland. Speaking with James Rose from Cal Orchid, he was responsible for bringing the original plants in that populated the plants nurseries have been selling for years. As recent as 1992, a Fred Hillerman Angraecoid manual lists the species as rare. Looking at some plants photographed in situ shows different forms which would support the issue that the plants found in the trade are descendant of one type. I bought this plant at the first Speakers Day the California Sierra Nevada Judging Center hosts in August from H&R a handful of years ago. Not a particularly fast-growing plant it took much care to get from my little Podangis to the impressive thick member of my collection you see now. You can find this plant from both Alan and Jim at Gold Country Orchids and Cal Orchid respectively. Additionally, find Daniel Pfarr at the May Monthly Meeting, he will have two plants for the first two people who have read this far and posted on our Facebook page saying they did so!
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