Phalaenopsis amabilis, commonly known as the Moon Orchid, is a species of orchid.
It was first discovered on a small island off the east coast of New Guinea by native botanist Georgius Everhardus Rumphius in 1653; however, he named it Angraecum ablum majus. It remained undiscovered until 1825 when Karl Ludwig Blume discovered the same species and gave it the name it is known by presently. This species is usually found in the eastern to southeastern regions of Asia. Plants in this genus are typically widespread in the areas of eastern Asia, such as China and Indonesia. This particular species wide-ranges from Indonesia to Australia. In fact, this species is one of Indonesia’s national flowers (along with Jasminum sambac and Rafflesia arnoldii).
Plants of this genus have a uniform structure that makes the identification easy for novice botanists. Phalaenopsis amabilis, like most of the other species in this genus, has a short stem. This is believed to be an adaptation to gain the light requirements needed to grow, according to Christenson. The rooting of P. amabilis is usually unbranched. The only times it would be branched are if the roots are damaged or if the individual has gotten old in age. The leaves of P. amabilis vary from oblong to elliptic at the base and obtuse, minutely, at the tip or apex and measures at 50 × 10 cm. The moon orchid’s flower is showy, membranous, white, the lip, (the unpared petals of an orchid) which is three-lobed, and the callus are a variety of yellow and red depending on the individual plant. It is able to bloom for a long period of time and can grow up to 10 cm in diameter and more.
Phalaenopsis amabilis reproduces sexually through pollination. This plant grows its flower to attract the pollinator. It is generally pollinated by large carpenter bees from the genus Xylcopa. For this particular species in the Phalaenopsis genus the pollination frequency and success rate is high (about 50%).
P. amabilis and the other species in the same genus grow naturally in three distinct habitats. The first is in seasonally dry areas, then seasonally cool areas and last constantly moist or humid areas (Christenson), developing adaptions for each habitat. For the seasonally dry habitats, Phalaenopsis species have an extreme adaptation in which it adopts deciduous habits, losing its leaves. They do this because in dry habitats, leaves are a serious liability when water isn’t easily accessible. This adaptation typically occurs in species found outside the Himalayan region. For the habitats that are seasonally cool areas, the species found there are all deciduous or semi-deciduous in nature which means these plant have a strong dormant rest period. In this dormant period, the plants have protection from the cold due to the high carbon to nitrogen ratio and low water content on the leaf tissue. The constantly moist and humid habitats are the most common places that someone can find many of the Phalaenopsis species. In this habitat, the species grow in the canopy evergreen forests. Because they grow in the canopy, the species’ adaptation is growing leathery leaves to prevent desiccation and so that the plants can tolerate higher light levels than other species.