The 'Little striped orchid' (Acampe praemorsa)

The ‘Little striped orchid’ (Acampe praemorsa)

It is late summer now, and in the dizzying heat, few people are venturing out on nature walks, right now. If they did, the one little delightful flower they would find in profusion everywhere, would be the Little striped orchid (Acampe praemosa).


Clumps of Acampe orchids flowering on the wild epiphytic plant

It grows wild throughout India and China and relatives in the same genera are found throughout Africa, far east and south-east Asia. For all that they are quite common, they go largely unnoticed, as the flowers are so tiny and tucked away among the large leafy plants, that grow attached to the shady trunks of old mango or Jack fruit trees. In fact, these ‘epiphytes’ will latch onto any tree with a mossy trunk, and can even be grown easily at home attached to a stout bamboo pole.

Tiny beauties

Tiny beauties

The tiny flowers have bold, stripped faces and a mild sweet fragrance. It is odd, that so few cultivated orchids have any fragrance to go with their sophisticated beauty , while in the wild, many orchid species have lovely , signature fragrances. For some reason, the scientists and collectors have chosen to ignore this aspect of orchids, totally.

The orchids grow naturally on the trunks of old trees and flower once a year

The orchids grow naturally on the trunks of old trees and flower once a year

The wild orchid flowers  though, attract an ardent bevy of insect admirers and they probably help with the pollination too. During the rains (in a months time ) the green seed pods are to be seen.The plants and even the seed pods have been used in traditional medicine in many parts of India but the knowledge of those traditional herbalist’s methods are limited and they are not widely collected today. In the meantime , these little beauties are too tiny to evoke the interests of commercial gardeners and the little flowers are too brittle (the name Acampe derives from the Greek word ‘akampos’ meaning  brittle) to be used in any bouquets or flower arrangements. So they are left growing in their merry little clumps, unobserved in the shade, but by no means unappreciated by the tiny summer flies and keen eyed nature lovers.