Continuing with the series on “Biodiversity of China”, here’s another orchid contribution from Eric in SF@Flickr (also see: orchidphotos.org). The original image can be viewed via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Always grateful for your contributions, Eric.
Of the twenty-five to thirty thousand species of orchids in the world, China boasts approximately 1400. Of these, nearly 500 are endemic. Cymbidium sinense, despite being named after China (sinense), is not among the endemics — it has a range extending to Japan, India, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam. Chinese cymbidium has been cultivated and hybridized for nearly a millenia (since at least the Southern Song), with ‘Da Shun’ being one of the dozens, if not hundreds, of cultivars.
One of the main attractions of Cymbidium sinense is the fragrance. From what I’ve read (but haven’t experienced), each cultivar produces a slightly different scent. On ‘Da Shun’ (and the species in general), Eric describes the fragrance as “…heavenly and intoxicating. There are multiple high-end perfumes based on [the scent of the species and cultivars of Cymbidium sinense]”.
In the wild, the species grows in “forests, wet and well-drained shaded places in thickets along streamsides” at elevations of 300-2000m (1000-6500ft.), according to the Flora of China.