Penang’s lush and verdant hills are home to various kinds of flora and fauna. In the early years of Penang, Penang Hill used to be a haven for botanist and naturalists alike. The likes of Charles Curtis collected many endemic plant specimens from the hills and transplanted them in the Penang Botanic Gardens. Chief among these plants was one which was like none other, the Penang Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum callosum var. sublaeve).
Mention its name and you will excite any serious orchid enthusiast out there. Unfortunately, it is this same enthusiasm for the Penang Slipper Orchid which has caused its precipitous demise from the forests of Penang. Once common, today this orchid is almost elusive, being collected to the brink of extinction by greedy orchid collectors. But even now it can be still found growing in the most inaccessible and remote areas of Penang. I myself have been looking for this orchid for 10 years before I found it growing near a remote stream in Penang.
And to add to the excitement it was not just one plant that I found, but a whole colony growing on a single boulder by the side of a hill stream! There were 5 separate Slipper Orchid plants which I found growing in this colony. Unfortunately none were found flowering at the time of the photo.
Of the 5 separate plants which were found growing on the boulder, Specimen 1 and 2 were found closest to the river with Specimen 2 being the nearest to the flowing water’s edge, Specimen 3, 4 and 5 were found on a relatively dry and flat part of the same boulder.
Of the 5 plants, only 2 plants showed a past history of blooming. These were plants No 2 and No 3 as shown in the following photos.
The remote location of this Penang Slipper Orchid colony has kept it away from the hands of greedy collectors. Do continue following my blog as I will be going again to catch a glimpse of its flower in the near future.In the meanwhile let’s hope this slipper orchid colony continues to stay safe!