Thursday, December 8, 2011

Renanthera elongata - Tree on Fire

Renanthera elongata (Blume) Lindl. syn. Aerides elongata Blume, Gastrochilus reflexus (Lindl.) Kuntze, Porphyrodesme elongata (Blume) Garay, Renanthera micrantha Blume, Saccolabium reflexum Lindl. is an adorable small flowered orchid that can be found in Malaysia. This climbing monopodial orchid bears small but numerous and closely spaced flowers on a branching inflorescence. The base colour of both the petals and sepals is reddish orange with dark reddish purple blotches. The stalk of inflorescence is yellowish orange in colour with dark reddish-brown blotches. The stems and the leaf sheath have purple blotches as well. Plants are frequently found from lowlands up to 1000m elevation, near swampy grounds or in riparian area. Plants found climbing trees will grow up and then out of the plant canopy, where it would burst into bloom in the full sun. This growth habit, coupled with the profuse blooms that are reddish in colour lead to this orchid being nicknamed ‘tree on fire’.
Renanthera elongata

This plant depicted here had fallen off its ‘perch’ after a strong storm at a water treatment plant in the Klang Valley. The tree that it was growing on was one of those ‘Christmas trees’ commonly planted in Malaysia. As it was lying on the road, I took it back. Luckily I had not run over it with my car as it was getting dark and the road was not lit. It was quite a long stem (about 3 meters) but the bottom section had been run over by a vehicle.
Close-up shot of Renanthera elongata.

As with growing any climbing/scrambling Vandaceous orchids, the plant will only flower if the stem is free from any support or hindrances i.e. it is free hanging or out in the open. So never stake a climbing orchid with a 6 foot stake or else you will need to wait until it clears the top before it flowers. Likewise never grow them by a tall wall; else you will have to wait until it clears the wall before it will flower. Renanthera elongata likes high humidity and the leathery leaves will start to crinkle if it is too dry.
The dainty little blooms of Renanthera elongata.

Since I moved to an apartment unit, I gave it to a friend who stays in another block and had the orchid attached to his ‘Christmas tree’ in a pot.


  1. Very pretty. I can just imagine this plant on my mom mango plant. My parents don't grow them in pot but let them attach to other bigger plants.

  2. It used to be tied to my 'mini' mango tree before being given away. Janji pokok orkid tu dapat tumbuh sampai terjulur keluar dari support tree, barulah ia berbunga.

  3. I really regret that I have no space for any tree in my garden, so now I have nowhere to hang or attach my orchids. I am growing them in clay pots placed on the floor or a stand. Everyday I am staring at my hibiscus and lipstick palm trees and wondering if I can attach some orchids there.

  4. I have seen wild monopodial orchids (one of the tiny flowered Aeridinae family member) growing on Dypsis lutescens (Butterfly palm) at UKM. The palms were about 1 storey in height. Perhaps Cyrtostachys renda would be suitable for some orchid.