Bulbophyllums are one of the largest genera in the orchid family with as many as 3,000 known species. They are found mainly in the tropics and are a diverse bunch with more than 70 sections. Their size range from the minute to the very large and are mostly rambling epiphytes, forming huge colonies on trees.
Bulbophyllums are also renowned for being real stinkers. I had the chance to come close to one of them, an amazing Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis at the Perak Orchid Society’s show. The flowers looked a little like a reddish hairy tarantula and smelled, oh… like a dead rat in the closet. Charming.
All that stench of course, is to attract its natural pollinator, flies.
B. phalaenopsis is also one of the largest species among the genus. The fleshy leaves can grow as long as four feet, each arising from a fist-sized pseudobulb. This specimen was impressive but not as large as the one I’ve seen at the World Orchid Conference in KL many years ago.
There were a few other Bulbophyllums on display, all of which however, were unlabelled. I could only guess their names from Google references and they looked positively eye-catching in their own distinctive Bulbophyllum way.