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Mexipedium xerophyticum

 
Dendrobium aggregatum 'Lorenzen' AM/AOS CCM/AOS

Dendrobium aggregatum is easy to grow and flowers in the late spring. It will produce multiple spikes that hang gracefully and are adorned with beautiful chains of golden yellow blooms. They don't last long, but the show is amazing. This clone came to me from my friend Mr. R.E. Post and he got the plant from his friend named J.E. Lorenzen who lived in San Antonio, Texas. He was known to most as Bebe Lorenzen and was an excellent grower and collector. His plant received an AM and a CCM at the same time in April of 1974 with 858 blooms.

Mexipedium xerophyticum

Mexipedium xerophyticum
 
Mexipedium xerophyticum

Mexipedium xerophyticum is a monotypic species that stands by itself. First discovered in 1985 and described in 1990 as Phragmipedium xerophyticum, it was given its own genus in 1992 after DNA analysis determined it was truly a new species. Only 7 plant clusters (clones) were originally found growing on steep to vertical limestone outcrops in an area of less than one hectare. The single known site is located in the region of Los Chimalapas on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, southern Mexico. It is found at 320 meter elevation and the region gets an average of 98 inches of rain per year.

In 1998 a severe fire swept the area and it was not until 2009 that one damaged plant of the original 7 was found. In further searching, 6 new clusters (clones) were found in a an area close by but not previously known. These were found on vertical limestone outcrops. All known clusters have been found growing facing north and protected by the most intense sunlight of the day. Some are on rock, some are found with roots in the cracks of rocks covered in rotting debris of plant material.

Survival in the wild is tenuous at best, but in cultivation they do well and should be assured of survival. Grow warm, bright light, but not full sun, pot in shallow pots and allow an area for the rhizomes to grow out and peg down to root. Mix must be well drained and have some sort of calcium such as ground oyster shell or bits of limestone. From midwinter to early spring, keep dryer, moderate water in the spring and heavy watering allowing to dry somewhat between episodes in the summer and start tapering off in the fall.

Blooms are brilliant white on nicely erect stems, 1/2 to 1", cute and petite. Plants can bloom sequentially over several months from spring to fall. There is more information on the internet and some additional ideas on growing this most rare and beautiful species.


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