The following focuses on plant habitats, and in particular how they affect orchid culture in this country. One facet of natural habitats for most of the orchids grown in this country is significantly different from the conditions naturally experienced here, and this will be highlighted, together with other significant aspects.

HABITAT 2. THE FOOTHILL 
MONSOON FOREST HABITAT

Introduction

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 ORCHIDS
TYPICAL
OF
THIS
HABITAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is perhaps the most important of all the orchid habitats, with some 60% of all orchid species found in this zone, mainly the sympodial types familiar to most orchid growers. The orchids found include many cymbidiums, dendrobiums such as nobile and fimbriatum, coelogyne, many oncidiums, lycaste and sophronitis, and the single flowered plain green leaved paphiopedilums.

This habitat is found along the Brazilian coastal mountain ranges, the foothills of the Himalayas, the mountains of Burma, Malaysia, Indochina and Mexico, and the eastern slopes of the Andes, at higher elevations than Habitat 1. Typically it falls within the altitude range of 850 to 1850 metres above sea level.

The habitat is characterised by the following features.

  • It is cooler than the Lowland Rainforest habitat discussed earlier.
  • It is subjected to heavy rainfall and markedly increased seasonal variation. Annual rainfall up to 4000 mm per annum is common n the Serra de Cubatao in Brazil, with falls of 1300 to 3500 mm are experienced within the Himalayas. Typically there are morning mists and clouds and a fully saturated atmosphere. The morning sunshine and breezes dry the plants by 8 to 10 am, with the substrate dry by midday. Clouds and mists form again late in the day, with the forest quickly becoming fully saturated by late afternoon.
  • Winters produce little direct rainfall, although humidity remains high.
  • Typically skies in winter are clear, with bright sunshine.
  • Summers are wet and shaded, with many days of cloudy conditions..
  • In the mountains there is constant air movement, with orchids rarely found where calm conditions are experienced.

Some weather data is available for a typical cymbidium habitat in Sikkim, North India, at the upper altitude range for this habitat. The greater variability in temperatures from the earlier habit should be noted, together with the diurnal range of 4-8oC.

 

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