Section Ceratopetalum Hallier

Asher (5) notes the single plant included in this section has recurred petals in the manner of the horns of a water buffalo, with light pale green strap shaped foliage. The Sectional name 'Ceratopetalum' comes from the Greek 'Keras', meaning 'horn' which describes the petals of the single species of this section, 'held like the horns of a buffalo'.(91)

Cribb 105 places these plants in his Subgenus Paphiopedilum Section Paphiopedilum


This section comprises the single species


A most distinctive and attractive terrestrial species, it is a dwarf plant, growing only up to 270 mm tall. Its dull green leaves, with a prominent mid rib on the underside, grow 100 to 150 mm long, and 25 mm broad. The inflorescence is 100 to 150 mm high, the single flower 60 to 75 mm long, 40 mm broad. The dorsal sepal is greenish white, with purple veins. The synsepalum is pale green striped purple. The petals are similar to the dorsal, with a purple margin. The lip is brownish green with purple reticulations. The side edges are cream white. (8)

Bechtel Cribb and Launert state that the correct spelling of the name is fairrieanum' and not fairieanum' as commonly seen in literature. (8) 105 The plant was named after a Mr R, Fairrie of Liverpool. When Lindley first described it he misspelled the name of Mr Fairrie, although some still stick to the erroneous spelling. Also see Bennett (97) who disagrees with this view.

This species was first brought to growers attention in 1857 when Mr. Rudd of Somerset, UK sent flowers to the botanist Sir William Hooker at Kew Gardens, who also received it from the nursery of Mr Parker. In October of that year a plant in flower was exhibited at the Royal Horticultural Society by Mr Fairrie of Liverpool, and the species was named in his honour by the botanist Dr Lindley. The origin of these plants was uncertain, but were all thought to have been obtained at auction from a collection of orchids which had been made in Assam India. It remained a rare plant, and Sir William Hooker stated its 'blooms are certainly amongst the most exquisitely coloured and pencilled of any of this fine genus'. (4) Its origins remained unknown until it was re-discovered by G. C. Searight in West Bhutan over 40 years later. (8) Swinson, in his biography of Frederick Sander devotes a chapter to the interesting story of the early history of this species. 108

This species is native of South Bhutan and Sikkim India. It grows on limestone rocks in oak forests on west facing cliffs at some 1500 to 1800 metres altitude. It also grows on dry sheltered grassy slopes. July to September flowering, it needs a cool dry rest for six weeks around June (southern Hemisphere equivalent months). It is one of the easiest species to flower. It makes numerous growths each year soon becoming a specimen plant. It needs moss at its roots and plenty of water during its growing season. Like P. insigne its natural habitat is influenced by the wet summer monsoon, and dry winter monsoon. Its habitat is never completely dry although rainfall is seasonal, and humidity always remains high. (3)

Pradhan (30) describes the early history of this species, and that article records and illustrates a number of distinctive forms, together with brief notes on its habitat.

Pradhan (29) also describes P. X Pradhanii, the natural hybrid with P. venustum.

33 primaries have been registered to 1976 with 17 awarded, many recently'. (9)


Easily grown under cool to intermediate conditions, this distinctive and attractive species makes an ideal addition to any collection.

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Site established 9th May 1998
Paphiopedilum series first uploaded 8th December 1999