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Ancistrochilus rothschildanus O'Brien

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Charles and Margaret Baker

Ancistrochilus rothschildanus O'Brien

AKA: N/A. 

ORIGIN/HABITAT: Found from Sierra Leon to southern Nigeria in equatorial
west Africa. A. rothschildanus is an uncommon rainforest epiphyte that
usually grown at moderate elevations near the coast. However, plants have
been reported growing inland as far east as a rainforest in central

CLIMATE: Station #65264, Calabar, Nigeria, Lat. 5.0N, Long. 8.4E, at 206
ft. (63 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 3000 ft. (910
m), resulting in probable extremes of 96F (35C) and 40F (4C). 

F AVG MAX        77   80   80   79   78   77   76   74   75   76   78   77
F AVG MIN        62   63   64   63   63   62   62   62   62   63   63   62
DIURNAL RANGE    15   17   16   16   15   15   14   12   13   13   15   15
RAIN/INCHES     1.5  3.0  6.2  8.6 12.3 16.2 17.9 16.5 16.6 12.9  7.5  1.9
HUMIDITY/%       78   77   79   81   82   86   88   88   87   84   82   78
BLOOM SEASON     **    *    *                   *                   *     
DAYS CLR @  6AM   0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
DAYS CLR @ 1PM    9    1    1    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    1    9
RAIN/MM          38   76  157  218  312  411  455  419  422  328  191   48
C AVG MAX      25.0 26.7 26.7 26.1 25.6 25.2 24.5 23.3 23.9 24.4 25.6 25.0
C AVG MIN      16.7 17.1 17.7 17.1 17.1 16.5 16.5 16.5 16.5 17.1 17.1 16.5
DIURNAL RANGE   8.3  9.6  9.0  9.0  8.5  8.7  8.0  6.8  7.4  7.3  8.5  8.5

Cultural Recommendations: 

LIGHT: 1800-2500 fc. Strong air movement is recommended at all times. 

TEMPERATURES: Conditions vary only slightly throughout the year. Days
average 74-80F (23-27C), nights average 62-64F (17-18C), and the diurnal
range is 12-17F (7-9C).

HUMIDITY: 85-90% from summer through autumn, dropping to 75-80% in winter
and spring.

WATER: Rainfall is very heavy from spring through autumn, with a 2-3 month
dry season in winter. Cultivated plants should be kept evenly moist and
not be allowed to dry out completely between waterings while they are in
active growth. However, water should be gradually reduced in late autumn
after new growths mature. 

FERTILIZER: A solution mixed at 1/4-1/2 recommended strength should be
applied weekly while plants are actively growing. A high-nitrogen
fertilizer is beneficial from spring to midsummer, but a fertilizer high
in phosphates should be used in late summer and autumn.

REST PERIOD: Growing temperatures should be maintained throughout the
year. While rainfall is less in winter, some does fall each month, and
additional moisture is available from frequent heavy dews in the
rainforest habitat. For cultivated plants, water should be reduced but not
eliminated for 3 months in winter. Plants should be allowed be become
almost dry between waterings. The normal watering schedule should be
resumed in spring when new growth becomes evident. Growers report that a
54F (12C) dry rest is needed after leaf fall, but this is cooler than
indicated by the climate table. However, keep in mind that the 3000 ft.
(910 m) elevation used for habitat elevation is our interpretation of
"grows at moderate elevations" If the habitat is actually at 5000 ft.
(1520 m), temperatures would be 6-8F (3-4C) cooler than indicated in the
table. Fertilizer should be reduced or eliminated during the dry rest and
resumed when watering is increased in spring. 

GROWING MEDIA: Growers recommend a mix of fine fir bark with about 10%
charcoal and 10% perlite added. Because long rhizomes result in a rather
rambling growth habit, baskets, shallow pots, or bulb pans are generally
preferred. This is especially true when growing a large, specimen type
plant. The shallow depth of the container allows faster drying so that the
medium does not become stale or soggy. Pots are usually filled about half
with medium of coarse fir bark for improved drainage. The plants is set in
place and the pot filled with fine bark or the mix previously mentioned.
Since the plant is naturally an epiphyte, slab culture could probably also
be used, but we have not found a single reference to its use in
cultivation. Also, we have found no reference to the use of tree-fern
fiber as a medium for A. rothschildianus. It should work well, however,
especially in baskets or in drier regions where a medium that retains more
moisture is desired. 

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: These plants have a growth and blooming habit very
similar to the autumn blooming Pleiones. We treat them much the same,
except for warmer temperatures and a little more water for the
Ancistrochilus during the winter rest. Our winter minimum temperatures are
held at about 60F (15C) with occasional brief drops to near 55F (13C)
during exceptionally cold periods.

Plant and Flower Information: 

PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A small epiphytic plant that grows to 6-14 in. (15-35
cm) tall. 

PSEUDOBULB: Loosely clustered with a relatively long connecting rhizome.
They are up to 2 in. (5 cm) across, conical or pyriform, appearing
somewhat like a dried and rather wrinkled "chocolate kiss".. 

LEAVES: 2 per growth that emerge from the top of the pseudobulb. They are
4-16 in. (10-40 cm) long, thin and soft textured, suberect to arching, and
are usually deciduous at the end of the growing season. 

INFLORESCENCE: Usually 1, occasionally 2 per growth. Each inflorescence is
2-3 in. (5-8 cm) long. They emerge from the base of mature pseudobulbs,
usually as the leaves begin to fall. 

FLOWERS: 2-5 per inflorescence. The 2 in. (5 cm) flowers are fragrant,
long lasting, and are large and showy for the size of the plant. The
sepals and petals are white, lilac, or rose pink. The pointed mid-lobe of
the lip is a rich purple with 5 dark rose ridges, and the side lobes and
column are creamy green stippled with brown. 

HYBRIDIZING NOTES: We are unaware of any hybridizing efforts using this
species. It is self fertile, however; and when our plant was selfed,
viable dry seed was produced after only 75 days with no prior color change
or warning of any sort before the fruit opened. 


Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid
species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Hamilton, R. M. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton,
9211 Beckwith Road, Richmond, B.C., Canada V6X 1V7.

Northen, R. T. 1980. Miniature orchids. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. 

Segerbäck, L. B. 1983. Orchids of Nigeria. A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam. 

Stewart, J. 1979. An Introduction to the orchid genera of Africa--from A
to Z. American Orchid Society Bulletin  48(2):151. 

Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 564510

Please remember that this sheet is for your use only, and though it was
provided free of charge, it may not be reproduced or retransmitted in
any way without permission.

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