Pronunciation: bulb-oh-FILL-um

Bulbophyllum lepidum

Bulb. echinolabium

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily: Epidendroideae
  • Tribe: Podochilaeae
  • Subtribe: Bulbophyllinae
  • Genus: Bulbophyllum, Thouars 1822

General Characteristics

  • single-noded pseudobulbs
  • basal inflorescence
  • mobile lip

Bulbophyllum is the largest genus in the orchid family Orchidaceae. With 1805 species, it is also one of the largest genera in the entire plant kingdom, and the most geographically diverse, found in all tropical areas on earth. It is quite diverse in its flower morphology as well. This genus is abbreviated in the trade journals as Bulb.

This genus was first described by Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars (botanical abbreviation Thouars) in his book “Histoire particulière des plantes orchidées recueillies sur les trois Iles Australes d’Afrique, de France, de Bourbon et de Madagascar.”

The center of diversity is in the montage forests of Papua New Guinea (more than 600 species), though the genus is pantropical and widespread occurring in Australia, Southeast Asia (with over 200 species in Borneo), Africa, Madagascar (with 135 species, some endemic) and in tropical central and South America.

This genus covers an incredible range of vegetative forms, from tall plants with cane-like stems, to root climbers that wind or creep their way up tree trunks. Other members are pendulous epiphytes, and quite a number have developed succulent foliage to a greater or lesser degree.


  • Temperature: Most Bulbophyllum species are warm growing and should see a winter temperature of no less than 65 F at night. Species from more temperate regions can be grown 5-10 degrees cooler. Maintain a gentle air movement.
  • Light: Moderate to bright (2000 to 3500 foot-candles). Higher light, that does not damage the leaves, seems to result in better and more frequent blooming.
  • Water & Humidity: Most species come from humid rain forests. Humidity should be kept at 60% , which can be difficult to do outside of the greenhouse. Water frequently, as both mounted (at least daily) and potted plants (several times a week) will thrive under wetter conditions than most orchids. Bulbophyllum may be the exception to the rule “when in doubt, don’t water”. Species from more temperate regions often have a dry period, and watering should be adjusted accordingly.
  • Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer at quarter strength once a week during the summer. This can be reduced to once a month in the winter.
  • Potting: Bulbophyllum species tend to prefer a minimum of repotting. Mounting (tree fern or cork slabs), well draining baskets, and pots can all be used successfully. The recommended potting media are sphagnum moss, coir (coconut chips or fibers) and tree fern. The choice of potting will often be dictated by the very long rhizomes of some species. Due to their rambling growth habit, some species.


Browse to Wikipedia to view the entire list of over 2,000 species.


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