Described by one gardener as looking like the world’s most exotic daffodil, this daffodil relative is notable for several reasons.
First, the size of the flower is impressive. This relatively close-up photograph lacks scale, so do visit the set of images available from the Pacific Bulb Society on Pamianthe to see sometimes-BPotD contributor Nhu Nguyen’s photograph of the flower with a person’s hand for comparison (Nhu also has this photograph of the entire plant on Flickr). Or, if you need specific dimensions, the Scottish Rock Garden Club’s discussion about Pamianthe peruviana leads with mention of size of the flowers: about 30cm (12 in.) long and 17cm (~7 in.) wide. All written personal accounts of Peruvian daffodil also note the strong, pleasant fragrance of the bloom.
When instructing students in UBC’s Horticulture Training Program, I try my best to avoid absolute statements about plant biology, because there are always seem to be exceptions. Pamianthe peruviana is one of these. “Do all bulb-forming plants grow in the ground?” Most people consider bulb-forming plants to be equivalent to geophytes or “earth plants”, but in the case of this bulbous perennial, it is instead an epiphyte–plants that grow on the surfaces of the other plants. With this in mind, the tropical Pamianthe peruviana has growing requirements as if it were an epiphytic orchid or bromeliad. This means warm & even temperatures, filtered light, and (you can read specifics in the links above) a relatively specialized growing medium where moisture is available but not always in constant contact with the bulb.
There are at least two (and sometimes three) recognized species of Pamianthe, collectively native to Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. One of the species, Pamianthe parviflora (a small-flowered species) is known only from a single collection, and may possibly be extinct due to habitat destruction. Similarly, many web references suggest that Pamianthe peruviana is also extinct in the wild for the same reason. This is not “confirmed” in the scientific databases (e.g., IUCN Red List) that are my usual sources for such information, so perhaps there is some hope that incorrect information is being repeated and there remain places in Peru or Bolivia where Pamianthe peruviana still resides.
Photography resource link: the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition has announced the winners of Competition 11. Of particular interest to me is how the photographs reflect current trends in photography (i.e., the increased use of digital postprocessing). I’m also visiting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit this weekend; photographs selected in this latter competition tend to be more documentary in nature.