Monday, June 15, 2015

Random plant event: Neofinetia falcata "Amami Furan"

It's getting to the point where I can't even say I'm unable to grow orchids anymore.

Let me first admit that Neofinetia falcata "Amami Furan" is not especially interesting to look at.

That's it. Solid white flowers, stiff dull olive-green leaves, orchid-type roots. The most interesting thing about its appearance is the long spurs on the flowers:

Which don't seem that interesting either, granted, but the way the plant suddenly grows them is sort of neat. The earliest stages of bud only have short, stubby spurs:

And then all of a sudden they start shooting out the back of the flowers. Which is interesting to watch, but not, like, beautiful.

However, Neofinetia does have one non-obvious feature that totally makes up for the plain appearance. You know it doesn't look like much, but how does it . . . sound?

(No. I'm kidding. It's fragrant, not noisy. I just wanted to surprise you for a second.)

And what a fragrance! It changes a little bit from hour to hour and day to day, but it usually smells like vanilla, a Gardenia, or something in between the two. It's not overpowering like the Hoya lacunosa:1 I can only detect it if I'm within 3 or 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 m) of the plant, and even then only if the air currents are exactly right. It's also only fragrant at night, after about 6 or 7 PM.

I don't know how long to expect the blooms to last; they opened up on June 3, and aren't wilting or browning as I write this on June 12, so there's nine days right there. I'd be surprised if they lasted a month, but then, I haven't had this happen before, and couldn't locate any information about bloom lifespan on-line, so for all I know, they last forever. (Don't spoil it for me if you know.)

Even if they are set to die pretty soon, the plant has produced a second spike, about 2 or 3 weeks behind the first --

-- so that'll extend the life of the scent a bit further.

I'd given up on ever growing an actual Gardenia indoors a long time ago, and had mostly given up on growing orchids since an unhappy Oncidium / Sophrolaeliocattleya / Potinara / Dendrobium experience in 2011 and 2012, so having an orchid bloom for me for the first time,2 and having it smell more or less like a Gardenia, is . . . well, "miraculous" would be a bit strong, but it's still two impossible things happening at the same time. So whatever the word is for two impossible things happening at the same time. Which I suppose may as well be "miraculous."


1 The Hoya is not actually that bad, though when multiple peduncles are in bloom simultaneously, the smell does get pretty strong.
Recently, with the Neofinetia smelling like a gardenia in the kitchen, the Hoya smelling like a florist's display case in my office, and the Murraya paniculata smelling like musky orange blossoms in the plant room, the house has had a pretty complicated scent landscape lately. A week ago, it was even more complicated than that, as Sheba chose to roll in some fresh shit (her own? neighbor cat?) she found in the yard and got a thick streak of it on her back, which necessitated an emergency bath.
2 I ought to acknowledge here that I received this plant for free, in a plant trade in May 2012, and that I had specifically encouraged the sender not to send it to me, on the grounds that sending it would be a waste of an orchid, as I can't grow orchids. And they sent it anyway (potted in the softest, fluffiest sphagnum moss you have ever seen -- I wanted to, like, sleep in it), and here we are, three years later.


Ginny Burton said...

Beautiful! And now I want one!

Thomas said...

Why did you pick Amami Furan? I'm sure there are other orchids that can be grown as easily as this one, but with more lovely flowers.

mr_subjunctive said...


Footnote 2. Ahem.

Unknown said...

We live in era where you can pick up gaudy polka-dotted, kaleidoscopic Miltonia or Phalaenopsis for a ten-spot at the supermarket. There's something to be said for growing simple, elegant, fragrant white orchids.

Shad said...

LOL. Note two! its totally beautiful. i want all!

Sofia said...

The native Neofinetia falcata on the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula were spirited away in the 60s and 70s by flocks of tourists to the area. There are a few left in locals' windowsills or back porches, but the ones in the trees are all gone... They were one of the listed plants in my paper on the ethnobotany of Irouzaki, a memory of years gone past.