Phalaenopsis lowii (Rchb.f 1862)
Low's Phalaenopsis
Distribution : Myanmar, Thaïlande
Principal synonyms
Phalaenopsis proboscidioides (Parish ex Rchb.f 1868)
Polychilos lowii (Shim 1982)
The orchid with the hooked nose

   Epiphytic or litophytic plant.
   Roots few, fleshy, glabrous, flexuous.
   Very short stem completely enclosed by imbricating leaf-sheaths.
   Leaves very few, from 1 to 5, articulate, persistent or deciduous, dark green above, speckled with purple underneath, ovate-lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, acute, slightly ducted underneath, long 9 cm, wide 3 cm.
   Flower stalk very thin , arcuate, simple or ramified, 30 cm long, but being able to reach 90 cm. The original description tell that the inflorescence may carrying many flowers, up to 100. Actual cultivated plants are less productive.
   Bracts triangular, acute of 3/4 mm.
    Flowers from 3,5 to 5 cm, with delicate texture, strange.
    Sepal dorsal oblong-elliptic or ovate-elliptic, acute or slightly rounded. Lateral sepals oblique, ovate or ovate-elliptic, acute or slightly rounded, of the same dimension than the dorsal sepal. Petals acuminate, elliptic-oblong, obtuse.
   Lip 3-lobed, as long as the petals. Lateral lobes falcate (sickle-shaped), finished in hook, provided with a fleshy keel crossing the disc diagonally. Midlobe attache under lateral lobes, at cuneate base, ovate or flabellate-ovate, convex, acute or rounded at apex, sometimes slightly apiculate, sometimes slightly notched on the edges. Disc provided with a very developed fleshy keel. Between the lateral lobes one notes the presence of two callosities surmounted by a bilobate callus covering partially the midlobe.


Phalaenopsis lowii from Bateman  (1867)

   Column short, fleshy, arcuate, finished at its end by an extension similar by his form to an elephant trunk. Rostellum biaciculaire, as length as the column.
    Pedicellate ovary 4 cm long.

   Species with deciduous leaves in nature.
   The color of the whole parts varies to white tinted amethyst towards the base, to pink . Midlobe dark purple-crimson. White lateral lobes tinted of yellow. The extension of the column is mauve with purple. The general tonality of the flower varies from clear "blue" to pink.
    Not very floriferous in culture, from two to height flowers appears at the end of a floral pole of about thirty centimetres, Phalaenopsis Lowii was described like more prolific in nature, with a stem of more than 90 cm, ramified, carrying a hundred flowers simultaneously. The current plants, coming from Thailand are perhaps less floriferous.
    Intermediate climate seems to be better with this species.
    Phalaenopsis Lowii requires more light than the majority of the other species. The humidity must be maintained permanently high and it appreciates a marked alternation of temperature between the day and the night (10/13C). With an excess of light, the foliage become reddish.

    Discovered by the reverend C.S.Parish who travelled in Moulmein (Myanmar ex Burma).
    Introduced in culture by the firm Low and Co in 1861, and named in the honor of Hugh Low, collector of plants and colonial administrator in Labuan (northern island of Borneo).
    This comments are due to the General E.S.Berkeley in two articles, one in the Gardeners'Chronicle in 1887, the other in the Orchid Review in 1893 .
"Phalaenopsis Lowii believes in a zone of low hills limestones whose altitude does not exceed 60 meters. Precipitations are abundant during a great part of the year and the rivers numerous *. At the end of November to the beginning of January occur one dry period, and leaves and stalks disappeared. Remain only the roots which do not push any more but that the night dew maintains in good condition. At the beginning of March the vegetation begins again with the first precipitations. The plants are installed only in the part North-eastern of the hills and thus protected from the hot seasons of the afternoon. They push nevertheless in very luminous situations. In culture, the foliage is not obligatorily deciduous. In all the cases the rest period should not exceed two months."
  Well know in cultures at the end of XIX century (its culture was rather delicate and it was necessary to place the plants along the glass), Phalaenopsis Lowii seem to have disappeared. From 1904 one had lost any trace of it. It was recently rediscovered in the West of Thailand, in zones of limestones, at an altitude from 700 to 800 meters either in epiphytic situation on trunks, or directly on the limestones cliffs where some fissures allow the accumulation of leaves producing a little humus. From December to January, in dry season, the plants lose their foliage. The rains begin again in July and until the plants survive thanks to ambient moisture and fog. The plants which develop on the trees are sheltered sun and preserve their leaves. Flowering takes place in October.

* delta of the rivers Gyne (or Ghine), Ataran, and Salween in the province of Tennasserim
Recent collections from Thaïland have white sepals and petals with minimal pink blush. Some flowers are pure white.
Average temperature humidity and pluviometry, evolution relating to Myanmar, sea level (area of Moulmein)