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Chinese Pholidota – The Atypical Orchid

Apr 2020
Author : Green Power

The word "orchid" always calls to mind a special image—as elegant and graceful as depicted in Chinese paintings, or as colourful and flamboyant as displayed in flower show. There is, however, one "ordinary" and "low-key" member of the family—Chinese Pholidota (Pholidota chinensis), which is atypical and hides in the wild.

Chinese Pholidota is a native flower of Hong Kong, belonging to the Orchidaceae family. Its Chinese name conveys a sense of Chinese fairies. The plant grows on tree roots or rocks in dark, humid micro environments. Its pale yellow or white flowers are not eye-catching at all! Nonetheless, the translucent flowers, hanging down in strings of up to some 20 little flowers, are charmingly stylish.

Chinese Pholidota bears oval pseudobulbs that resemble little green peaches, hence its Chinese name meaning "Stone Fairy Peach". On each pseudobulb are two slender green leaves that look lovely. In the wild, you will often find a couple of the "peaches" growing in close proximity. In fact, they are from the same plant. Upon looking closer, you will see a creeping stem by the tree roots or rock, connecting the pseudobulbs.

The cute-looking pseudobulbs are full of water storage tissues. The surface is smooth, without stoma to prevent water loss. In dry weather, they can effectively protect the plant against drought. There are other cells in the pseudobulbs that store nutrients produced from photosynthesis, to supply energy for flowering and reproduction.

Risk of Extinction

Chinese Pholidota is widely known for its folk medicinal value in treating lung diseases. Like other members of the orchid family, over harvesting of Chinese Pholidota has threatened the species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has designated Chinese Pholidota as "Near Threatened". The species is also listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES), with restrictions on its import and export. Also, Hong Kong law prohibits the collection of all wild orchids.

In recent years, the concept of "Leave No Trace" has become more popular. It means that visitors to the countryside take their own rubbish away as well as leaving the wild as it is. Do our best to protect the countryside and its ecology. No matter whether an appealing plant is rare or common, do not pick it. Take some good pictures to serve as the best memory!

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The lovely "peach" of Chinese Pholidota.
© Tommy Yu
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The string of little flowers hanging down from the plant.
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Elegant, graceful flowers.
© Peggy Chung
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The fruits look like mini star-fruits.
© Peggy Chung

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