Orchid of the Week: Dendrobium Spectabile

I’m back on track with Orchid of the Week today! This week, I’ve chosen the very unique-looking Dendrobium spectabile. You may be familiar with Dendrobiums that look like this:

Dendrobium orchid

Or like this:

Dendrobium blooms
Photo credit: gardenislandorchidsociety.org

But have you ever seen orchid flowers like this?

Dendrobium spectabile flowers
Photo credit: Rusty Orkid, Flickr

These are like the twisted but beautiful sisters of your more “typical” Dendrobium flower. According to National Geographic, this species was discovered just a few years ago in Papua New Guinea.

Dendrobium spectabile blooms
Photo credit: news.nationalgeographic.com

To me, they look like a mutation of some kind of sea creature, like maybe a jellyfish crossed with an alien fetus. Not that I really know what an alien fetus looks like—my only experience with those is from watching The X-Files. But obviously I know what jellyfish look like. For comparison with the orchid, take a look at this photo that I took at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego:

Look at those ruffles!

Or maybe it more closely resembles a sea dragon? Let’s compare:

Leafy sea dragon at Birch Aquarium

Pretty crazy, right?? Apparently, the Dendrobium spectabile blooms have a honey-like fragrance, which I’m sure smells a whole lot better than a jellyfish, an alien fetus, or a sea dragon. I’m tempted to order one of these Dendrobiums online to see if I can get it to bloom.  **Adds this species to my orchid wish list!**

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