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Chinese Orchid Appears in Ancient Texts

February 10, 2001|JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS

The thin, reed-like plants you see in Chinese brush paintings may look like grass, but they are actually cymbidium foliage.

"People like to joke and say that they are paintings of weeds, but they are orchids," said Teresa Fung, owner of Maisie Orchid Nurseries in San Gabriel.

"These orchids are considered classic cymbidium species because they can be found in old Chinese articles and poems," said Fung, who will exhibit Chinese cymbidiums at the 21st annual Fascination of Orchids International Show and Sale through Sunday at South Coast Plaza.

Though Chinese cymbidiums have attractive, long, flowing foliage that can reach 2 feet tall, the pseudobulbs are smaller than those of standard plants, each only 1 1/2 to 2 inches. And the flowers are fragrant.

There are five groups of Chinese cymbidiums, and three do well here. They are C. ensifolium, C. goeringii and C. sinense.

In general, Chinese cymbidiums should be grown as other cymbidiums, except that they prefer more shade.

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