Herbarium Digital Library


Category: Plants and Orchids
Date Posted: 2006-10-18

THE GENUS PHAJUS IS ONE WHICH INCLUDES APPROXIMATELY fifty species that are widely distributed throughout tropical Africa, Asia, and Australia as well as China, Japan and islands of the South Pacific. Seven of these species are indigenous to the Philippines. A number of species of this genus have attained horticultural importance because of their showy flowers and attractive foliage as potted plants. The species P. grandifolius was one of the earliest tropical orchids introduced into European gardens, being brought from China about 1778. The generic name Phajus is derived from the Greek word for "swarthy" in reference to the yellow-brown shade which is a common coloration in flowers of this genus. The genus is allied to the Calanthe and generally exhibits showy flowers, long lance-shaped plaited leaves with straight tall flowering racemes. This genus differs botanically from the Calanthe, in which the lip is joined to the base of the column, by having a partly free labellum. The lip is three-lobed with side lobes that are wrapped about the elongated footless column, and the sepals and petals are similar. When damaged or crushed the flowers, like those of Calanthe, turn dark blue and black.

There are possibly eight or more Philippine species of this genus. The most common is one which is widely dispersed throughout the Malaysian area and is quite generally distributed throughout the Philippine Islands. As is common with most native Phajus, this species, P. flavus, is a tallrgrowing terrestrial with a thickened base and five to eight long lanceshaped leaves about two to three feet tall that surround the stem in a sheath-like fashion. The flower stem is also three to four feet long and carries eight to fourteen loosely arranged flowers at its terminal end. The flowers are about 2 1/2 inches wide, yellowish, and appear during July to September. The specific name flavus refers to the yellow color of the flower.

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