Paphiopedilum Tableau


Dimensions 85 × 37.5 cm
Format - click for all:

Due to the combination of three images, this print is approximately half life-size to the plants

First Edition 50

This Print Format is


 height  37 cm  x  width 85 cm

This Print is suitable to become Special Edition Print. For more information please click here

The text below is a repeat of that found on the individual pages featuring these orchids.


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Stock Reference: PP7
SKU: PP7 Category:


The Valley of Eternal Spring used to owe part of its beauty to small yet flourishing clusters of the ethereally lovely Jade Slipper Orchid, Paphiopedilum malipoense. Its light raspberry fragrance drifted through the humid air beneath shady bamboos and rare conifers, mingling with the perfume of rhododendrons and heath family shrubs such as Vaccinum, to ensure pollination by bees and, possibly, syrphid flies.Thanks to frequent mists and leathery leaves, it survived winter droughts until the summer rains began, and, at the beginning of  the year, put forth elegant stems each bearing one perfect, translucent flower. Its roots and spreading rhizomes, moistened by small streams of water and dew, clung to mossy leaf litter found on crystalline limestone rocks and sloping grassy areas. It thrived in these dense evergreen forests, facing north and eastwards, towards the great limestone massif of southern China, and was helped to flourish by the nearly constant temperatures common to tropical high plateaux.

P. malipoense used to grow on the limestone cliffs of S. China and N. Vietnam, at between 570 and 1600 metres but the dry evergreen forests have been so extensively destroyed, mainly for firewood and timber, that although this species had only been discovered in China about fifty years ago, the small areas left available to them have been further decimated by over-collection. This beautiful plant is already considered extinct in the wild in China and highly endangered  in the small populations recently discovered in Vietnam. It was named after the town of Malipo, Wenshun in China as the herbarium specimen { the specimen against which all others are assessed } had been collected nearby. The models for this watercolour painting were flourishing under the focused care of gardeners at the Serres d ‘Auteuil, Paris. These greenhouses not only contain a magnificent collection of orchids but the gardeners who welcome you to share their passion are a warm, generous-spirited crowd. Towards the end of the painting, I began to panic because the bud on the right just wouldn’t open. This mattered only because the painting was to be the star of an imminent London exhibition and I’d envisaged three open flowers. With typical kindness, the gardeners put a 24 hour light bulb near the bud to try and encourage it to open but without success. The stem just grew and grew. So I painted it exactly as it was. I later learnt that this non-opening of buds – sometimes for up to several months – is not uncommon behaviour in wild P. malipoense plants and is thought to be due to the forests’ occasional very low temperatures.            

Paphiopedilum delenatii [left in this image] prefers to grow terrestrially in mossy, shaded crevices facing south and south-east, surrounded by ferns such as Humata repens and Schizaea digitata and other orchids – its roots clinging closely to the acidic granite and gneiss rocks found in s.w. China and southward through Vietnam to the Bi Dup mountains near Da Lat. It thrives in a climate where winter humidity between October and February is high, the dry season from April to September is softened by the damp air which rises from nearby streams and rivers and where light shade is provided by open montane forest trees such as Podocarpus nerifolius and Dacrycarpus imbricartus. Although basking in a year round temperature which remains between 23 – 28 degrees, flowers are put forth for only a brief period – between December and January. In these malarial areas, mosquitoes may play a part in pollinating this and many other plants, but P. delentii is believed to be mainly pollinated by bees. This Paphiopedilum was described by Francois Guillaumin in 1924 and named in honour of the director of the botanic garden in St Germain en Laye, a M. Delenat – despite the plant having been found in 1913 in Tonkin by a soldier.                                                                                      

Paphiopedilum niveum [ right in this image ] prefers evergreen forests in Thailand, Myanmar, Borneo and northern peninsula Malaysia, growing on often shaded, north facing vertical rocks away from direct sunlight. Depending on whereabouts in its range it is growing, flowering seasons can vary slightly. In southern Thailand flowering roughly corresponds with the May to November rainy season, and elsewhere is unusual in having a protracted though scattered flowering season from August to October. P. niveum grows in often small clusters in humus pockets in limestone tower and labyrinthine karst hills at from sea level to 200m.  Insects enter a potential death trap. Enticed alluringly, though utterly misleadingly, by large white petals and a very faint yet promising scent which, however, does not lead them to nectar, insects of the wrong size can be lucky to get out alive. Steep, shiny walls with in-curving upper edges imprison some unfortunate insects who are too small or too large to grab the hairs at the back and haul themselves out through the restricted tunnel to freedom beyond. But one of  P. niveum’s pollinators, Tetragonula testaceitarsis, is just the right size. It belongs to the sting-less Melaponine bee group whose queens never forage – and males only rarely – so, unsurprisingly, workers do the work.© Frances Livingstone 2018

error: © Frances Livingstone 2018