Dendrobium papilio

Week 62: June 14, 2021

Dendrobium papilio

New candidate for this week is Dendrobium papilio.

Dendrobium papilio Loher, 1897 is accepted species by WCSP, Kew. This not very common beautiful species is native to Philippines. They grew on mossy trees at elevation of 1400 to 2200 meters.

Previous Awards:

There are 11 AOS awards for this species since 1979 (CHM/AOS in 1979). Then next award was granted in 2009, 30 years later. The most recent award was CCE/AOS 94 pts in Feb 2020 (Golden Gates Orchids).


Dendrobium papilio has 22 flowers on 22 inflorescences. The plant is 91 cm tall by 61 cm wide and is growing in 13 cm clay pot.

Flower Measurements:

NS H - 11.5 cm; NS V - 12.0 cm;

Dorsal Sep. W - 3.0 cm; Dorsal Sep. L - 6.5 cm;

Petal W - 4.5 cm; Petals L - 6.0 cm;

Lat/Sepal W - 2.5 cm; Lat/Sepal L - 6.0 cm;

Lip/Pouch W - 3.0 cm; Lip/Pouch L - 6.5 cm.

Judges' Comments

Al Messina (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Twenty two flowers on twenty two inflorescences, well grown on multiple, mostly arched, thin canes. Inconsistent petal form lacking "roundness" of recent awards

mitigates against flower award. Plant could qualify for a marginal culture award but foreign species (fern) should be removed.

Kristen Mason (Accredited Judge, Cincinnati Judging Center)

Thank you for sharing this beautiful display of the large flowered form of Dendrobium papilio. When compared to awarded clones and examples seen online, this entry has large size, good width in segments, consistency in form, good symmetry in flowers, good color, average number of flowers on a robust beautifully grown and very well presented plant. I love the habit and display of flowers compared to other examples. I pointed this at AM 82 and cultural at 79 - so right at a CCM. This plant makes me want to figure out how to grow cool.

Deb Boersma (Student Judge, Great Lakes Judging Center)

Dendrobium papilio

Overall, a charming, delicate flower with tessellation on petals and nice stripes on the lip. Flower appears to be quite flat but there is more fenestration than in some of the other awarded flowers. The form is not as full and round as compared to others, this is quite evident when comparing our candidate to the awarded ‘Rosmina’ cultivar. The petal width measurements would indicate that the petals are wider than awarded plants but visually they do not seem to be comparably as wide and full. It is more floriferous than the other quality awarded plants. I really like the presentation of the flowers around the perimeter of the plant and in the video, they seem to dance in the air. Unfortunately, I think that it lacks the form to qualify for a quality award and I would not nominate it.

In terms of a cultural award, it is not as floriferous as others with 122 flowers, 68 flowers and one with 13 flowers on 6 canes, not as many flowers as our candidate but more floriferous in terms of flowers per cane (2 flowers per cane). However, it is a well grown plant and the flowers are well presented around the whole perimeter of the plant. I think that I would nominate it for a CCM cultural award.

Ramon de los Santos (Accredited Judge, California Sierra Nevada Judging Center)

There are two types: one has a smaller flower with nicer markings on the lip. Then there is the bigger flower (almost double the size) with some striations on the lip. This particular flower, the form is typical of the big size one. It’s not particularly flat with some twisting on the petals. The there is a good number of blooms. I will pass on a quality award but a cultural of 82 pts.

Also how to differentiate Dendrobium papilio from Dendrobium aurículatum when not in bloom, Den. papilio plant branches while Den. auriculatum doesn’t.

Deborah Bodei (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Dendrobium papilio


I literally had to take a few looks to check and see if this was a man-made creation because the presentation is so nice. I think the grower has done a spectacular job and even though this plant of 22 flowers is not as floriferous as the CCM’s with an average of 32 flowers, this plant in a very small pot gives the appearance of a much more mature plant the way it is grown. The other awarded are on larger mounts but those plants and flowers are presented in disarray in comparison. The plant can most be compared to the past awarded ‘Seward Goddess’ which had a similar flower count but more buds. It was growing in a smaller pot, but was a bigger plant and presented in a natural disarray (AOS CCM of 82 points in 2014).

Flower size is in range of previously awarded. These flowers are less reflexed than most and give a nice open appearance (like namesake butterfly). Upon closer inspection, the form is less than perfect, but could be scorable. Petals are narrow and the lower margin swept back and the close up of the one flower shows lack of symmetry. The sepals are fantastic and full in comparison as are the clear markings on the lip (typical of this species). The flower appearance most resembles ‘Seward Goddess’ which received an AM of 80 points in 2014.


I would nominate for a cultural award but would have to see more of the flowers to decide if I would nominate for a flower award. I am not sure if the one flower close-up photo is telling the entire story. I would expect a CCM in the lower range just because it’s a smaller plant with less flowers than other awarded. However it is exceptionally grown and presented and the grower should be recognized for that.

Thank you,


Tom Mirenda (Accredited Judge, Hawaii Judging Center)

One of the most exquisite Dendrobiums species

There are at least two forms that I am aware of. One with multitudes of flowers at about half the size of these

And this form with its larger flowers which when well grown and flowered can put on simply astonishing shows.

This plant has clearly been lovingly cared for, despite, (or perhaps because of?) the live polypodium fern it is growing with.

I often remove such ferns as they can disturb or overcrowd out delicate orchids….and I would probably do so here before it takes over.

However, it may be that this is a commensal relationship I’m not aware of.

In any case, I believe this clone to be awardable due to the size of the flowers and a wonderful evenly distributed blooming.

While larger plants and slightly larger flowers have been shown, I still think this one is above the average standard for the species

Other flowers can be a delicate pink, while this one is almost white. The form is round and flat by the standards for this species, and I think it falls in the range of a low AM flower quality wise.

As to the culture, it is still a fairly small plant, but it is nonetheless quite impressive in its presentation and very nicely bloomed

I think even at this tender age, it is deserving of a CCM probably around the 85 pt range.

Tom Mirenda

Sergey Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Dendrobium papilio.

Lovely species from Philippines.

This particular plant is beautifully grown, grower did a great job!

There are 4 quality awards and 5 cultural awards for this Dendrobium (plus 2 botanical awards). When I compare candidate to awarded plants I found that presentation of the flowers is much nicer than previously awarded: on most of them you can find flowers and most of the canes hanging down, but on our candidate most of the canes stayed upright with nice spacing between the canes and flowers nicely displayed almost all a way around the plant. This elegant presentation gives effect as flowers flying around the plant. Looks like very beautiful and delicate flower bouquet!

Cultural award. When I compare candidate to awarded plants I can find numbers of flowers in the range of cultural awards (for example ‘Steward Goddess’ CCM/AOS 82 pts with 22 flowers and 8 buds, or ‘Lulu’ CCM/AOS 84 pts with 13 flowers). Few others had much more flowers but on much larger plants.

Consider beautiful presentation, number of flowers on relatively small plant, I have no problem to nominate this plant for cultural award and score 84-85 pts.

Flower quality award. Flowers of our candidate are larger than two awarded clones ’Rosminah’ AM/AOS 80 pts and ‘Seward Goddess’ AM/AOS 80 pts. Although all segments are larger or similar to awarded clones, candidate’s flower doesn’t look full as awarded clones. I think flowers are still awardable and I would score in high HCC range, maybe higher if see them in person.

Kudos to the grower!


Bob Winkley (Accredited Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

Thank you and the grower for sending along this beautiful candidate. Looking at the flowers, it's not a wonder that the epithet is 'papilio' - the butterfly-like form of these flowers is elegant and graceful, and the presentation conjures up images of butterflies swarming in flight.

Looking at the award record, it appears that our candidate's flowers, while slightly bigger in some of their dimensions, are much more open and elongate than the few flower quality awards which favor a rounder form. Color and substance both appear typical for the species.

Looking at the cultural awards it appears that this is a vigorous and floriferous species with one of the plants being shown at least twice and earning upgraded cultural award. It also appears the award record is a bit all over the map with regards to expectations since a number of the cultural awards appear to be on the lower end of the flower count spectrum when compared to the awards to the clones 'Vistamont' and 'Seward Goddess.'

All that said, I think the grower has done a commendable job and could easily see nominating this plant for a cultural award, with my score coming in somewhere in the mid 80s depending on factors which can't be evaluated from a photo.

All the best -

Bob W.

Elena Skoropad (Associate Judge, Northeast Judging Center)

This plant we don’t see every day! A rare find…

Beautiful butterfly Dendrobium native to Philippines. I love the presentation; it looks like a bouquet of flowers. The form of the flowers is not the best one comparing to previous flower awards but still very awardable. The flowers are white, larger than many awarded plants, this plant has a very distinct purple stripes; lip center yellow.

As far as culture award goes we have a very wide range of flower count in OrchidPro which is a bit confusing. Our candidate has 22 flowers on 22 inflorescences and could be nominated to the culture award as well I would be scoring in low AM and mid CCM for this plant.

It is great to see this rare species in private collection. The grower did a fantastic job; kudos for gorgeous presentation!

Thank you,


Will Bottoms (Student Judge, Carolinas Judging Center)


The flowers create quite the impression on this species that I have never seen in person. The immaculate white flowers with the rosy-pink veins in the lip are simple, elegant, and very attractive. While these flowers measure in line with or larger than the awarded exemplars, they unfortunately do not seem to be as full as the awarded exemplars (particularly those that have higher quality awards). They do appear to be incredibly flat judging from the pictures provided, which may be why they don’t seem to be as full. As for flower count it is in line with the quality awards.


For quality consideration I could score this plant were it to be nominated. I would probably land somewhere in the high HCC to low AM range. As for cultural consideration, I’m not sure what I would do were this to be nominated. Ignoring the fern (which I know was subsequently removed before the photos and videos were taken) I’m not sure that it would meet the standard anymore. With the CCE plants showing such a high flower count, I’m not sure this is showing the potential that would get it to a CCM now. If the fern were present in the pot on the judging table, I don’t think that I would nominate it. It doesn’t necessarily detract from this particular plant because of the growth habit, but I don’t know that I think it should be there to qualify for consideration.

This plant has brought up two questions, one that our center has discussed a few times and one that has never occurred to me to ask.

1) When counting inflorescences on Dendrobiums should we count inflorescences or flowering growths? When/How do you make the decision to do one over the other? Why would or wouldn’t you count both and record both in the description? - The answer that our center has settled on is that, when it is possible, we should count inflorescences and flowering growths and record both (particularly on plants being awarded a cultural award). When it isn’t possible to count inflorescences we count flowering growths and total growths and record both. I’m curious what other centers do or what other opinions are out there.

2) When considering a plant for a cultural award does the presence of another plant in the same pot (fern, orchid, oxalis, etc.) impede your ability to judge the plant for culture? - My answer would be that I don’t particularly care for the presence of miscellaneous plants, other than the one that we should be judging, to be in the pot.



Exhibitor - Bayard Saraduke, NJ

Virtual Award Description

Twenty-two large, delicate flowers on 22 inflorescences on a 91-cm tall by 61-cm wide plant with 10 branched canes, eight bearing flowers, grown in 13-cm clay pot, flowers artistically presented giving flying butterflies effect, flowers white, sepals oblong, petals lanceolate, distal margins gently undulate, lip spatulate, basally overlaid yellow, centrally striped purple along veins, substance light, texture matte.

Grower's Advice

I bought the plant as a seedling from Orchids Limited about five years ago.

I no longer know what the substrate was originally, as I have moved the plant into successively larger pots and the roots now obscure the media.

It grows at the cooler end of the greenhouse near the evaporative cooler and under the fogger where it may get wet from the fog on a hot summer day.

It has ten growths from the base of the plant which branch into many canes.

I left the fern in the pot because I had to quickly photograph and break down the equipment in one morning. I removed the fern for the video, though.