In nature Neofinetia falcata occurs mostly as white flowered plants, but some individuals can have purple flushing, sometimes just on the flower’s spur (the downward extended and curved part that contains the nectar) and occasionally this color can extend to most of the flower, in particular the sepals and petals. Other forms can be found with green flowers, again, mostly in the sepals, petals, and spurs. No confirmed yellow flowers have been found yet, although many dealers claim to have true wild collected yellow flowered plants. I’ll speak more about that later. The discussion here is about some of the more common colored flowered fuukiran.
The first group are the purple flowered forms. All of these are claimed to be at one time wild collected and nowadays are propagated though division and also from seeds. One of the most common and easy to flower is Benisuzume. This one clumps very quickly and it is always generous about flowering too. Its flowers are on the small side and usually are just a pastel pinkish purple. The lip is totally white.
Shutennou is one of the most famous of the purple flowered forms. It originally was from Shikoku and wild collected plants were slow to grow from division. Plants propagated from seed today are fast growers and clump well. I’ve found it easy to flower, but I don’t get as many spikes as on Benisuzume. An interesting plant from the island of Shikoku is Shikoku Akabana. The only negative thing I can say about this one is that it is slow to clump. Tougen is an older form with lovely curving purple spurs. It seems easy to grow and flower, yet remarkably not well known or grown given its charms.
The best known green flowered form is Hisui. It has proven to be a good grower and reliable in flowering as well. I find they bloom twice a year, first in early July with the main flush of fuukiran and later again in early fall. It seems to form clumps quickly. A neat plant in many regards is Suikaden. First of all are its elegantly curved fans of leaves that are very reminiscent of Seikai. Next are the flowers, the typical white color, but the sepals are tipped with green as is the spur. In time it makes small clumps of growths.
The last group are the yellow to orange flowered forms. Much controversy has spun around this group, the issue being are they truly Neofinetia falcata. Most growers today agree that no true yellow flowered N. falcata exist, hence all yellow flowered plants are mixed blood – most likely with the genus Ascocentrum, but given the long spurs this plant has, back-crossing must have occurred. Regardless, growers of fuukiran proudly keep their yellow flowered plants right alongside their other plants and a number of yellow forms have been named and recognized. A common name given to any yellow flowered plant is Kibana Fuuran, simply meaning “yellow flowered wind orchid”. These are lovely, yet highly variable plants with flowers ranging from very light yellow to deep yellow-orange.
The one pictured here is darker than most. This variability in color depth along with its penchant to flower out of season compared to true fuukiran, point to its hybrid background. One of the most coveted (and high priced) of the named Kibana Fuuran is Yuubai. The flowers are typically deep orange and in some plants there also is a red-purple flush to them. While it is a lovely plant, the price tag on these scares away most folks, me included! Finally, a greenish-yellow flowered hybrid is the delicate Kurimubana Fuuran, meaning “cream colored wind orchid”. These are quite lovely with their pastel greenish flowers.
Plants with highly colored flowers, especially if the lip is colored, are all hybrids. No naturally occurring Neofinetia has truly pink, blue, orange, red, or yellow flowers. Still, many hybrids do exist and they can be really spectacular. I grow a number of them and while I don’t consider them fuukiran, I do enjoy their often flamboyant colors and unique forms. I’ll dedicate a future post to Neofinetia hybrids so you can see some of the variety out there.