The Dendrobium crumenatum is often found growing in exposed locations, usually in semi-deciduous and deciduous dry lowland rainforests and sometimes in coastal scrubs.
Coastal scrubs are savannah-like woodlands. Mostly found in tropical countries with warm, dry climates and occasional wet seasons.
The Dendrobium crumenatum can also be grown indoors and in cultivation, provided that suitable conditions are present.
Commonly known as the Pigeon Orchid, the Dendrobium crumenatum is also called the Purse-Shaped Dendrobium and the Bag-Shaped Dendrobium.
Formally described by Olof Swartz in 1799 and published in Heinrich Schrader’s Journal für die Botanik., the “crumenatum” in Dendrobium crumenatum is derived from the Latin word “crumena,” meaning “leather moneybag.”
Purse-Shaped Dendrobium and Bag-Shaped Dendrobium are other derivatives of the initial Latin description of the plant. Dendrobium crumenatum petals tend to look like pigeons from the side, hence the common name for the plants.
They are popular as indoor and outdoor orchids, and over the years, multiple hybrids have been bred, cross-bred, and cultured to become as diverse as possible. Some varieties produce stronger fragrances than others, while some have differing aromas.
These differences rely on the location, climate, and specific growing conditions of the Pigeon Orchids. Most, if not all, retain the yellow throat color, and flowers usually are short-lived.
The Dendrobium crumenatum is usually a small-to-large-sized orchid plant. It grows in hot to warm climates. As with most orchids, it is an epiphytic plant, an air plant, or any plant that grows upon another plant or object merely for physical support.
It can grow anywhere from four inches to a height of three feet. The plant has a few swollen ridged nodes and is spindle-shaped. The nodes are yellow with age and can branch out, carrying thick leathery deciduous long leaves.
The Pigeon Orchid produces upright pseudobulbs 10 to 30 inches long that have three or four lower nodes that are swollen. The middle pseudobulb has a couple of rows of leathery egg-shaped leaves two to three inches long. The top pseudobulb produces delicate aromatic flowers.
Dendrobium crumenatum roots are typical of all Dendrobium species. Roots should remain as close to their natural forms as possible, though, in temperate climates, they become slightly dormant if not adequately cared for.
However, their roots come back to life with rapid growth under the right conditions in the springtime. Care should still be given to the roots to remain close to their native habitat and climate, mimicking the cyclical wet and dry seasons.
Due to their normal growth conditions in intermediate to warm temperatures and medium amounts of light, Pigeon Orchids’ roots should remain moist but not wet.
The blooming Dendrobium crumenatum is a sight to behold, with multiple arrays of white flowers resembling a bevy of white doves in flight. The Pigeon Orchid will bloom under specific conditions, which are after a temperature drop and rain.
This is a normal occurrence in its natural habitat; however, artificial conditions may also cause it to flower. The flowers may vary in size, and their colors may also vary per hybrid variety.
Some Dendrobium crumenatum flowers may have a tinge of blue or pink in their petals, while the lip has five bright yellow bulges. The flowers are also fragrant, with a subtle scent of coconut.
While delicately beautiful and wonderfully aromatic, the flowers only last for a day or two before withering up into a banana-shaped form similar to their initial growth as buds.
The Pigeon Orchids are acclimated to exposed locations in lowland rainforests in the Andaman Islands, Christmas Island, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Lesser Sunda Islands, New Guinea, Malaysia, Moluccas, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Reportedly, some naturalized Dendrobium crumenatum plants can be found in Fiji, Hawai’i, the West Indies, and the Seychelles Islands.
Dendrobium Crumenatum Care
Under the right conditions, Pigeon Orchids bloom monthly during warm, dry weather when evaporation from unexpected rain causes a drop in temperature.
– Light Requirements
To copy the natural conditions of their growth, Dendrobium crumenatum plants in cultivation and those indoors need a 35000 to 45000 lux light level. The ideal outdoor light location would be in partially shaded areas like tree branches or under trees, where direct exposure to the sun does not exceed four hours to prevent plant burns.
– Water Requirements
The Pigeon Orchid thrives when it is in slightly dry and slightly moist conditions. One of its most responsive growth indicators is the roots. In temperate climates, the Dendrobium crumenatum plants in cultivation or indoors should be constantly moist from early summer to autumn.
The roots should be allowed to dry out between watering slightly. Once winter season approaches, watering should be slowly reduced to avoid root rot.
Like many dendrobium species, the Pigeon Orchid thrives well in hot, warm, and tropical climates. The ideal temperature for those in cultivation or indoors would be 86 to 94 F, and the ideal temperature at night would be 66 to 72 F. Otherwise, the Dendrobium crumenatum might not acclimate and start to dry up from the cold.
Since Dendrobium crumenatum plants are mostly air-growing plants or epiphytic, they prefer to grow on other plants or fallen trees for support. Since they possess modified aerial roots that may sometimes grow several feet long, they can be found high up in the branches of trees where decaying material gather.
Sometimes, they are also found growing happily between rocks and can thus be categorized as lithophytic. When growing in or on rocks, the plants feed off nutrients from rainwater and decomposing plants, including their own withered tissues.
They grow best on old tree trunks, cork, orchid poles, as well as tree fern rootstocks. They can be mounted directly on slabs or the branches of trees, preferably in partially shaded areas.
Pigeon Orchids also grow well in well-draining clay pots with medium sizes of permeable substrates, such as sphagnum moss or medium fir bark, to ensure adequate moisture without dampness. Repotting is recommended once new roots appear.
The Pigeon Orchid requires an ideal humidity level of 80 to 85 percent for most of the year, especially in temperate climates. A simple humidifying system will work wonders to keep the plant happily thriving. In the colder winter months, humidity levels may drop to 75 to 80 percent. For warmer, tropical climates, minimum care will be needed to maintain humidity.
Water-soluble orchid fertilizers are recommended to keep the Pigeon Orchid healthy throughout the year. However, the amount of fertilizer will vary depending on the location and climate of the plants.
In temperate climates, a weak fertilizer can be applied to the plant during the start of the winter season well into late spring. A regular strength fertilizer may be applied during the Dendrobium crumenatum’s growth period. Once a week or every two weeks is the recommended schedule for applying orchid fertilizers.
– Rest Period
Unlike other dendrobium varieties, the Pigeon Orchid does not seem to have a definite dormant period. However, in temperate climates, when the ideal humidity and temperature requirements are not met, the Dendrobium crumenatum may have the habit of shriveling up or drying out.
During this resting period, watering and fertilization should be reduced. However, care should be ensured that the plants only dry out slightly in between watering and should not stay dry too long.
The Dendrobium crumenatum has several folkloric uses, as well as potential medicinal usage. Studies have suggested that the Pigeon Orchid has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and analgesic properties.
Its leaves and pseudobulbs are often used by indigenous tribes for treating ear infections, while poultices using the leaves have been used to treat boils and pimples.
Other studies show that the Dendrobium crumenatum has other noted potential properties, such as anti-bacterial and reproduction function effects, as well as the frequency of endophytic fungi activity.
Fibers from the Pigeon Orchid plants are used as braiding material in traditional Asian craft making, hat-making, and basket weaving. Some Malaysian states place the Pigeon Orchids as a good luck talisman in their homes.
The Dendrobium crumenatum is an amazingly low-maintenance orchid once it is grown under ideal conditions. Let’s recap everything to get you ready to grow your beautiful Pigeon Orchids.
- The tropical Dendrobium crumenatum can be grown under artificial conditions, even in temperate climates.
- The Pigeon Orchid will thrive and bloom under an ideal growing medium, high humidity, high temperature, fertilizers, and a grow lamp.
- Watering should be regular during the spring to summer months and done sparingly during the colder months.
- Fertilization should be regular strength during the spring to summer months and diluted during the winter months.
- While there are no clear dormant periods, resting periods after flowering are recommended.
The Pigeon Orchid is a rewarding plant for many plant enthusiasts and will grow happily under the right conditions, even in temperate climates. One of the easiest orchids to grow, it will readily display its blooms for your pleasure once you decide to care for it with love and patience.
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