Friday, October 17, 2008

Snub-nosed monkey

The snub-nosed monkeys are a group of Old World monkeys and make up the entirety of the genus Rhinopithecus. The genus occurs rarely, and needs much more research. Some taxonomists group snub-nosed monkeys together with the ''Pygathrix'' genus.

Snub-nosed monkeys live in Asia, with a range covering southern China as well as the northern part of Vietnam.

These monkeys get their name from the short, stump of a nose on their round face, with nostrils arranged forward. They have relatively multicolored and long fur, particularly at the shoulders and backs. They grow to a length of 51 to 83 cm with a tail of 55 to 97 cm.

Snub-nosed monkeys inhabit mountain forests up to a height of 4000 m, in the winter moving into the deeply secluded regions. They spend the majority of their life in the trees. They live together in very large groups of up to 600 members, splitting up into smaller groups in times of food-scarcity, such as in the winter. Groups consist of many more males than females. They have territorial instincts, defending their territory mostly with shouts. They have a large vocal repertoire, calling sometimes solo while at other times together in choir-like fashion.

The diet of these animals consists mainly of tree needles, bamboo buds, fruits and leaves. A multi-chambered stomach helps them with digesting their food.

The impulse for mating starts with the female. She takes up eye contact with the male and runs away a short bit, then flashes her genitals. If the male shows interest , he joins the female and they mate. The 200-day gestation period ends with a single birth in late spring or early summer. Young animals become fully mature in about 6 to 7 years. Zoologists know little about their lifespan.


Genus ''Rhinopithecus''
*Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus roxellana''
**Moupin Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus roxellana roxellana''
**Qinling Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus roxellana qinlingensis''
**Hubei Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus roxellana hubeiensis''
*Black Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus bieti''
*Gray Snub-nosed Monkey, ''Rhinopithecus brelichi''
*Tonkin Snub-nosed Langur, ''Rhinopithecus avunculus''

Salea kakhienensis

The Kakhyen Hills Spiny Lizard ''Salea kakhienensis'' is a species of Agamidae found in S China , Myanmar , India, N Thailand.
Type locality: Ponsee, Western Yunnan.

Red Panda

The Red Panda, Firefox, Fire Cat, Fat Fox or Lesser Panda, or ''Ailurus fulgens'' , is a mostly herbivorous mammal, specialized as a bamboo feeder. It is slightly larger than a domestic cat . The Red Panda is to the Himalayas in Bhutan, southern , India, Laos, Nepal, and Burma. Red Panda is the state animal in the of Sikkim. It is also the mascot of the Darjeeling international festivals. There is an estimated population of fewer than 2,500 mature individuals. Their population continues to decline due to habitat fragmentation.


The most recent molecular-systematic DNA research places the Red Panda into its own independent family Ailuridae. Ailuridae are in turn part of a trichotomy within the broad superfamily Musteloidea that also includes the Mephitidae and the Procyonidae + Mustelidae . Unlike the Giant Panda, it is not a bear .

There are two subspecies of Red Panda: the Western Red Panda that lives in the western part of its range, and the somewhat larger Styan's Red Panda that lives in the east-northeastern part of its range. The Western Red Panda has lighter pelage, especially in the face, while the Styan's Red Panda has more dramatic facial markings. The effective population size in the Sichuan population is larger and more stable than that in the Yunnan population, implying a southward expansion from Sichuan to Yunnan.

The taxonomic classification of both the Red Panda and Giant Panda has been under debate for many decades, as both species share characteristics of both bears and raccoons. However, they are only very distantly related by remote common ancestry from the Early Tertiary . Its common ancestor can be traced back to tens of millions of years ago with a wide distribution across Eurasia. Fossils of the Red Panda have been unearthed from China in the east to in the west , and most recently a handful of fossils have also been discovered in North America.


Red Pandas are native to , along a crescent formed by the Himalaya Mountain foothills from western Nepal, southern Tibet, Bhutan, and Northeast India, then east into the highlands of Burma , the Gongshan Mountains of Yunnan province in China, and the Hengduan Mountains of Sichuan province in China. The latter area is thought to have been a refuge for Red Pandas, as well as many other animals, during the last period of glaciation. The gorge of the Brahmaputra River, as it loops around the eastern end of the Himalayas, is considered a natural division between the two subspecies, although some suggest the ''A. f. fulgens'' range extends more eastwardly into Yunnan China. Red pandas used to have a broader distribution farther northeast into China and farther southwest into India.

Red Pandas inhabit climates of moderate temperature with little annual fluctuation and prefer forested mountainous areas at elevations of 1,800-4,800 m,or 5000-15,700 ft, particularly temperate deciduous-coniferous forests with an understory of rhododendron and, of course, bamboo. They share habitat with another bamboo specialist, the Giant Panda, in China . Red Pandas are cavity nesters, using rock dens and old hollow trees. They often spend the day drooped over a branch high in the trees, feeding more actively at dawn and dusk. There are also several red panda populations living in zoos around the world. The North American captive population is maintained under the Species Survival Plan , and contained 45 animals as of May 2008. The Red Panda is shown being trained in episodes of Zoo Diaries.

Biology and behaviour

Physical characteristics

The Red Panda is quite long: 79-120 cm, or 31 to 47 in . Males weigh 4.5 to 6.2 kg ; females 3 to 4.5 kg .
The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder, with long and soft reddish-brown fur on upper parts, blackish fur on lower parts, light face with tear markings and robust - features. The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon, but each individual can have distinctive markings. Its roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes: almost pitch black. Its long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red transverse ocher rings provides balance and excellent camouflage against its habitat of moss- and lichen-covered trees. The legs are black, short with thick fur on the soles of the paws hiding scent glands and serving as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for firm grasping to facilitate substantial movement on narrow tree branches and seizing leaves and fruit. Like the Giant Pandas , it has a “false thumb” that really is an extension of the wrist bone.


Red Pandas are crepuscular and live in the slopes of the south of the Himalayas and the mountainous forests of the southwest of China, at altitudes of up to 4,800 meters, and generally do not venture below 1,800 meters. They are sedentary during the day resting in the branches of trees and in tree hollows and increase their activity only in the late afternoon and/or early evening hours. They are very heat sensitive with an optimal “well-being” temperature between 17 and 25°C, and cannot tolerate temperatures over 25 °C at all. As a result, Red Pandas sleep during the hot noontime in the shady crowns of treetops, often lying stretched out on forked branches or rolled up in tree caves with their tail covering their face

Red Pandas are very skillful and acrobatic animals that live predominantly in trees. They live in territories, frequently alone, and only rarely live in pairs or in groups of families. They are very quiet except for some and whistling communication sounds. They search for food at night, running along the ground or through the trees with speed and agility and, after finding food, use their front paws to place the food into their mouths. Red pandas drink by plunging their paw into the water and licking their paws. Predators of Red Pandas are snow leopards , martens and humans. The species has also faced a great deal of human-induced habitat destruction.

Red Pandas begin their daily activity with a ritual washing of their fur by licking their front paws and massaging their back, stomach and sides. They also scrub their back and belly along the sides of trees or a rock. They then patrol their territory, marking it with a weak musk-smelling secretion from their anal gland and with their urine.

If a Red Panda feels threatened or senses danger, it will often try to scamper up into an inaccessible rock column or a tree. If they can no longer flee, they stand up on their hind legs, which makes them appear somewhat more daunting and allows them the possibility of using the razor-sharp claws on their front paws, which can inflict substantial wounds. Red Pandas are friendly, but are not helpless, and will resist if they feel threatened.


The Red Panda eats mostly bamboo. Like the Giant Panda, it cannot digest cellulose, so it must consume a large volume of bamboo to survive. Its diet consists of about two-thirds bamboo, but they also eat berries, fruit, mushrooms, roots, acorns, lichen, grasses, and they are known to supplement their diet with young birds, fish, eggs, small rodents, and insects on occasion. In captivity, however, they will readily eat meat. Red Pandas are excellent climbers and forage largely in trees. The Red Panda does little more than eat and sleep due to its low-calorie diet.
Bamboo shoots are more easily digested than leaves and exhibited the highest digestibility in the summer and autumn, intermediate in the spring, and low in the winter. These variations correlate with the nutrient contents in the bamboo. The Red Panda poorly processes bamboo, especially the cellulose and cell wall components. This implies that microbial digestion plays only a minor role in its digestive strategy. The transit of bamboo through the red panda gut is very rapid . In order to survive on this poor-quality diet, the Red Panda has to select high-quality sections of the bamboo plant such as the tender leaves and shoots in large quantities that pass through the digestive tract fairly rapidly so as to maximize nutrient intake .


The Red Panda is a solitary animal, usually seeking a partner only for mating from the end of December to the middle of February. After a gestation period of 112 to 158 days the female gives birth to one to four blind cubs weighing 110-130 g. This occurs between the end of May to the beginning of July. A few days before the birth the female begins to collect material, such as brushwood, grass and sheets, to use for the nest. The nest is normally located in a hollow tree or a rock column.

After the birth the mother cleans the cubs and in this way can immediately recognize each by knowing its smell. After one week the mother leaves the nest to clean herself. The cubs start to open their eyes about 18 days later, but not fully until 30 to 40 days. The eyes are first grey, and after six weeks slowly start to turn dark in colour, becoming fully darkened in about 70 days. The new litter remains at the nest for twelve weeks. After they leave the nest they will remain with their mother, weaning around 6-8 months of age.

The cubs will stay with their mother until the next cubs are born the following summer. The males only very rarely help with the raising of the new generation, and only if they live in pairs or in small groups. Red Pandas start to become sexually mature at about 18 months of age and are fully mature at 2-3 years. Their average lifespan is 8 - 10 years but can reach a maximum of 15 years.

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park at Darjeeling has been successful in conservation breeding of Red Pandas.

The Valley Zoo in Edmonton has a successful breeding program and has had two pairs of Red Pandas born there, one pair in 2007 and another pair in 2008.


Red Pandas are classified as endangered. No reliable numbers exist for the total population but it is very threatened due to the fragmentation of its natural habitats, their small numbers, and their food specialization needs. In southwest China the Red Panda is hunted for its fur and especially for its highly-valued bushy tail from which hats are produced. In the areas of China, where the Red Panda lives, their fur is often used for local cultural ceremonies and in weddings the bridegroom traditionally carries the hide. The 'good-luck charm' hats are used by Chinese newlyweds.

This, and the continuous clearing of the forests has significantly reduced the population. It is now protected in all countries in which it lives, and the hunting of Red Pandas is illegal everywhere. Nevertheless, poaching continues and they are often illegally hunted and sold to zoos for dumping prices. The IUCN has mandated that small Pandas are a “threatened species“ since 1996, however it is now listed as endangered. It is very difficult to estimate the total population, yet one can assume that they cannot bear much more of a habitat change and that they are in danger of extinction due to the disappearance of the forests and hunting for their highly-valued tails and fur.

The SREL DNA Lab at the University of Georgia has listed several key major threat indications. A 40% decrease in Red Panda populations reported in China over the last 50 years, and those in western/Himalayan areas are considered to be in worse shape. Red Pandas have a naturally low birth rate and a high death rate in the wild.

Natural population subdivision by topography and ecology has been worsened by human encroachment, leading to severe fragmentation of the remaining wild population. For example, 40 animals in 4 groups share resources of a preserve in Nepal with 30,000 humans . Small groups of animals, with little opportunity for exchange between them, face the risk of inbreeding, decreased genetic diversity, and even extinction. The Red Panda is endangered due to habitat loss caused by deforestation, grazing, and farming. For example government-encouraged cheese production for tourists in Nepal contributed to fuel wood consumption for the factory, overgrazing by chauri impacting bamboo growth, and intrusion by herders and dogs . Agricultural terracing is having a detrimental effect on former Red Panda habitat in Nepal. The Red Panda is also for good-luck charm' hats for Chinese newlyweds, other fur clothing, and for the illegal pet trade.

Pinus yunnanensis

Yunnan Pine is a species of conifer in the Pinaceae family.
It is found only in China .

Rafetus swinhoei

Rafetus swinhoei, commonly known as the Shanghai soft-shell turtle, Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle , or Swinhoe's soft-shell turtle, is a species of soft-shell turtle. It may be the largest fresh water turtle in the world. It is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List 2006, and is one of the rarest turtles in the world. There are only two known to survive in China: an 80-year-old female in Changsha Zoo and a 100-year-old male in Suzhou Zoo. In Vietnam, a single large individual lives in Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of Hanoi. In 2007, scientists conducting surveys west of Hanoi discovered the world's only living example of ''Rafetus swinhoei'' in the wild.


''Rafetus swinhoei'' have been known to inhabit the Yangtze River and Lake Taihu, situated on the border of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, in eastern China; Gejiu, Yuanyang, Jianshui and Honghe in Yunnan province in southern China; and the in the north of Vietnam. In recent years a single specimen of ''Rafetus swinhoei'' was caught by fishermen in Hoa Binh Province on the tributary of the .
The last known specimen caught in the wild in China was in 1998 in the Red River between Yuanyang and Jianshui ; that turtle was then released. A turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam, has been sighted and caught on film in recent years.

Some local scientists claim that the specimen in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a separate species named ''Rafetus leloii'', or Hoan Kiem Turtle.

There are only two known living specimens in China, one each at Suzhou and Changsha Zoos. A third living specimen is at Hoan Kiem Lake;
A specimen at the Beijing Zoo died in 2005, and another one at the Shanghai Zoo died in 2006, both of them were caught at Gejiu in the 1970s.
Another was recently discovered in a north Vietnam lake, according to scientists. This specimen is said to still be in the lake.

Cordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Survival Alliance, the still reproductive, more than 80-year-old female living in the Changsha Zoo was introduced to the only known male in China, a more than 100-year-old individual living more than 600 miles away at the Suzhou Zoo, On May 5, 2008. The female has arrived safely and settled in well into her new habitat at the Suzhou Zoo, and biologists were optimistic for breeding success.


''Rafetus swinhoei'' are noted for their deep head with pig-like snout and eyes placed. They measure over 100  cm in length and 70 cm in width and weigh approximately of 120-140 kg. Their carapace, or shell can grow larger than 50 cm in length and width. Their heads can measure over 20 cm in length and 10 cm in width. Males are generally smaller than females and have longer, larger tails.


Individuals lay from 60 to more than 100 eggs. They nest at night and during the morning.


Includes fish, crabs, snails, water hyacinth, frogs, and .

Key threats

Rafetus swinhoei is on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss, hunting for subsistence and local consumption, and the use of the carapace and bones in medicine. Skulls are often kept as trophies. A recent plan to build hydropower cascade of 12 dams on the Red River in China may flood all of its habitat and change the ecosystem of lower Viet Nam

Conservation efforts

Conservation efforts are concentrated on breeding captive turtles in China and searching for live specimens in the wild. An agreement was made to transfer the only known remaining female specimen located at the Changsha Zoo to the Suzhou Zoo to breed with the male specimen there. Also efforts are being made to improve conditions for breeding at both the Suzhou Zoo and Western Temple in Suzhou.
A workshop on the Rafetus Conservation at Yunnan was held by CI-Shanshui. Local Chinese scientists are searching for the last existent individuals. The two specimens were able to produce two clutches of eggs with over half of them being fertile, though unfortunately all of them perished before hatching. The Turtle Survival Alliance released a statement, saying "A number of the eggs had very thin shells, suggesting that the diet of the animals prior to breeding was not optimal." . The two turtle are now being prepared for another round of mating, while being fed a high calcium diet in an effort to strengthen the eggs. Liu Jinde, the director of the zoo said "We've worked very hard on this, We ought to succeed. The turtles are very healthy."

The scientists are preparing to mate the two once again in May 2009, which falls within this species' breeding season.

The legend of Kim Qui

The specimen located in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi is thought to be the legendary ''Kim Qui'' , or Golden Turtle God, who has appeared at opportune moments throughout Vietnamese history. The golden turtle first appeared during the reign of King An Duong Vuong and assisted the king in the construction of defenses for the ancient capital of . When Co Loa was attacked Kim Qui assisted the king in making a magical cross-bow that rained arrows upon the invaders. When the King’s daughter conspired against her father Kim Qui emerged again to inform An Duong Vuong of the betrayal; the king consequentially killed his daughter and drowned himself in the lake.

In the 15th century, a general named Lê L?i obtained a magical sword that a fisherman had pulled out of the lake. Lê L?i used this sword to lead a rebellion against the Chinese armies that were in occupation of Vietnam. After establishing Vietnam's independence the now King Lê L?i returned to the lake and Kim Qui caught the sword in his teeth and submerged. Lê L?i then named the lake 'Lake of Restored Sword', or Hoan Kiem.

In 1999, 2000, and 2005 turtles have reemerged from Hoan Kiem Lake on special occasions, when it was seen by a large audience and caught on film. It is believed that there is only a single turtle left in the lake.

Pilea peperomioides

Pilea peperomioides, known as Chinese Money Plant, or Missionary Plant is a plant native to the Yunnan province in the south of China. Parasolpilea is characterised by having very round, dark green leafs with a 10cm diameter mounted in the middle on a long .

Peperomioides was first collected by in 1906, and in 1910, in the mountain range west of in the Yunnan province.

In 1945 the species was rediscovered by missionary Agnar Espegren in the Yunnan province when he was fleeing from the Hunan province. Espegren took some with him back to Norway, by India in 1946, and from there it spread throughout Scandinavia.


Phalaenopsis is a genus of approximately 60 species of . The abbreviation in the horticultural trade is Phal. Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular orchids in the trade, through the development of many .


The generic name means "Phalaen-like" and is probably a reference to the genus ''Phalaena'', the name given by Carolus Linnaeus to a group of large moths; the flowers of some species supposedly resemble moths in flight. For this reason, the species are sometimes called Moth orchids.

They are native throughout southeast Asia from the mountains to the islands of Polillo and Palawan of the Philippines and northern Australia. Orchid Island off Taiwan is named after this orchid. Little is known about their habitat and their ecology in nature since little field research has been done in the last decades.

Most are shade plants; a few are lithophytes. In the wild they are typically found below the canopies of moist and humid lowland forests, protected against direct sunlight, but equally in seasonally dry or cool environments. The species have adapted individually to these three habitats.

''Phalaenopsis'' shows a monopodial growth habit. An erect growing rhizome produces from the top one or two alternate, thick and fleshy, elliptical a year. The older, basal leaves drop off at the same rate. The plant retains in this way four to five leaves. If very healthy, they can have up to ten or more leaves. They have no pseudobulbs. The raceme appears from the between the leaves. They bloom in their full glory for several weeks. If kept in the home, they usually last two to three months.

Some ''Phalaenopsis'' species in Malaysia are known to use subtle weather cues to coordinate mass flowering.


The species can be classified into two groups :
*A group with a long, branched inflorescence and large, almost round flowers with rose or white tints.
*A group with short stems and less rounded, waxy flowers with more pronounced colors.
In terms of particular lifeform terminology, one can also characterize these plants as hemicryptophyte or chamerophyte :
hemicryptophyte : biennial or perennial plants with herbaceous stems. These stems die off after the growing season, while the shoots survive at soil level. The resting buds are just above or below soil level.
chamaephyte : low-growing plants with herbaceous and/or woody stems, that persist for several years. Their buds are on soil level or just above; but never above 50 cm.

The genera ''Doritis'' Lindl. and ''Kingidium'' P.F.Hunt are now included in ''Phalaneopsis'', based on DNA-evidence . However this is not implicitly accepted by every specialist in this field.

Intensive cross-fertilization has produced a great number of in all colors and variations. These are usually more adaptable to artificial conditions than their botanical ancestors. Most are hybrids of ''Phalaenopsis amabilis'' with ''Phalaenopsis schilleriana'' or ''Phalaenopsis stuartiana''.


*''Phalaenopsis amabilis''
**''Phalaenopsis amabilis'' subsp. ''amabilis'' .
**''Phalaenopsis amabilis'' subsp. ''moluccana'' .
**''Phalaenopsis amabilis'' subsp. ''rosenstromii'' .
*''Phalaenopsis amboinensis'' .
**''Phalaenopsis amboinensis'' var. ''amboinensis'' .
**''Phalaenopsis amboinensis'' var. ''flavida''
*''Phalaenopsis aphrodite'' .
**''Phalaenopsis aphrodite'' subsp. ''aphrodite'' .
**''Phalaenopsis aphrodite'' subsp. ''formosana'' .
*''Phalaenopsis appendiculata'' .
*''Phalaenopsis bastianii'' .
*''Phalaenopsis bellina'' .
*''Phalaenopsis borneensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis braceana'' .
*''Phalaenopsis buyssoniana'' .
*''Phalaenopsis celebensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis chibae'' .

*''Phalaenopsis cochlearis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis corningiana'' .
*''Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi'' .
*''Phalaenopsis deliciosa'' .
**''Phalaenopsis deliciosa'' subsp. ''deliciosa'' (Indian subcontinent to Malesia
**''Phalaenopsis deliciosa'' subsp. ''hookeriana'' .
*''Phalaenopsis dowery?nsis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis equestris'' .
*''Phalaenopsis fasciata'' .
*''Phalaenopsis fimbriata'' .
*''Phalaenopsis floresensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis fuscata''
*''Phalaenopsis gibbosa'' .
*''Phalaenopsis gigantea'' .
*''Phalaenopsis hainanensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica'' .
*''Phalaenopsis honghenensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis inscriptiosinensis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis viridis'' .
*''Phalaenopsis wilsonii'' .
*''Phalaenopsis zebrina'' .

Natural hybrids

*''Phalaenopsis × amphitrita'' .
*''Phalaenopsis × gersenii'' .
*''Phalaenopsis × intermedia''
*''Phalaenopsis × leucorrhoda'' .
*''Phalaenopsis × singuliflora'' .
*''Phalaenopsis × veitchiana'' .

Intergeneric hybrids

There is no true intergeneric hybrid between ''Phalaenopsis'' and the closely related ''Paraphalaenopsis''. However, according to the , there is a grex . ''Phalphalaenopsis'' Doris Thornton is currently the one and only registered grex that represents a cross between a ''Paraphalaenopsis'' and a ''Phalaenopsis'' . Therefore, strictly speaking, the genetic barrier between these two closely related genera has not been crossed. But, since there are only very few true ''Phalaenopsis'' species in cultivation , the possibility of a true intergeneric hybrid is not to be excluded.

Post-pollination changes in ''Phalaenopsis'' orchids

''Phalaenopsis'' are not only outstanding in their beauty, but also unique in that in some species, the flowers turn into green leaves after pollination. As in many other plants, the petals of the orchid flowers serve to attract pollinating insects and protect essential organs. Following pollination, petals will usually undergo senescence because it is metabolically expensive to maintain them. In many ''Phalaenopsis'' species such as ''P.violacea'', the petals and sepals find new uses following pollination and thus escaping programmed cell death. By inducing the formation of chloroplasts, they turn green, become fleshy and apparently start to photosynthesize, just like leaves.

Growing ''Phalaenopsis''

''Phalaenopsis'' are among the most popular orchids sold as potted plants owing to the ease of propagation and flowering under artificial conditions. They were among the first tropical orchids in collections. Since the advent of the tetrapoloid hybrid ''Phalaenopsis'' Doris, they have become extremely easy to grow and flower in the home, as long as some care is taken to provide them with conditions that approximate their native habitats. Their production has become a commercial industry.

In nature, they are typically fond of warm temperatures , but are adaptable to conditions more comfortable for human habitation in temperate zones ; at temperatures below 18 °C watering should be reduced to avoid the risk of root rot. ''Phalaenopsis'' requires high humidity and low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux. Flowering is triggered by a night-time drop in temperature of around 5 to 6 degrees over 2 to 4 consecutive weeks, usually in the fall, and a day-time drop in temperature to below 29 °C.

''Phalaenopsis'' prefer to be potted in osmunda fiber , a nearly ideal medium, but this has become expensive. More usual now is fir bark, which is more free-draining than sphagnum moss. Keep them in pots with a lot of drainage. One of the common blunders that new growers make is to rot the roots. Overwatering and poor drainage cause the roots to deteriorate, therefore killing the plant. The safest thing to do is to water when you feel the potting medium and find it is dry through and through.

Light is vital to the well-being of the ''Phalaenopsis'' orchid. Keep it in indirect light near a southern window. Be sure the sun does not directly reach the leaves, which will cause burning and unaesthetic brown marks. If the leaf feels hot to the touch, move it away immediately! On the other hand, phalaenopsis grown in poor dark areas tend to grow floppy dark green leaves and rarely flower.

''Phalaenopsis'' roots are quite thick, and the green point at the ends signifies that the root is actively growing. It is okay for them to climb out of the pots. Keep the plant fertilized with a 1/4 diluted strength balanced fertilizer three times out of four waterings.

The flower spikes appear from the pockets near the base of each leaf. The first sign is a light green "mitten-like" object that protrudes from the leaf tissue. In about three months, the spike elongates until it begins to swell fat buds. The buds will thus bloom. Usually you can tell what color the ''Phalaenopsis'' is by looking at the bud color. After
the flowers fade, some people prefer to cut the spike above the highest node . This may produce another flower spike or more rarely a keiki .

Using two ''Phalaenopsis'' clones, Matthew G. Blanchard and Erik S. Runkle established that, other culture conditions being optimal, flower initiation is controlled by daytime temperatures declining below 27°C, with a definite inhibition of flowering at temperatures exceeding 29°C. The long-held traditional belief that reduced evening temperatures control flower initiation in ''Phalaenopsis'' appears to be false.