Orchid Sellers

 

 

On the way to Puncak, beginning from the tea plantations, many orchid peddlers are seen lingering on the sides of the road. Puncak is a popular vacation spot to the people living in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, and is only within 2 hours of driving distance. With an altitude ranging between 1,200 1,500 meters above sea level, Puncak has a temperature range of approximately 18 to 28C.

Because of its popularity among the people of Jakarta, many orchid peddlers choose this location to market their merchandise.  Similar conditions apply to Lembang (near Bandung) West Java, and Pujon (West of Malang) in East Java.

 

Another reason is the fact that the region of Puncak is rich in mountains, which are prime habitats of orchids of various genera including Pteroceras, Grosourdya, Liparis, Malleola, Micropera, Cleisostoma, Sarcoglyphis, Gastrochilus, Epigeneium, Schoenorchis, Dendrobium, Dendrochilum, Bulbophyllum, Paphiopedilum, Coelogyne, Cymbidium and more. A large portion of these types of orchids is endemic to a certain habitat location and found nowhere else.

 

The orchid peddlers obtain orchids from hunters, who spend their days trekking back and forth into the forests to search for these plants. They will sometimes go into the forests for weeks at a time, bringing with them all the supplies necessary. What they find are then given to the peddlers, who add makeshift packaging to the goods in form of Cyathea glauca (tree fern) slabs or plastic pots and utilizing chopped bark or tree fern, osmunda fiber, or Selaginella moss as planting compost.

This provides the customer with the convenience of being able to directly hang or otherwise attach the orchid to a suitable fixture.

 

Sadly, life expectancy for these plants are considerably low since they are indigenous to the high lands and are thus unable to survive well in the low lands of Jakarta.

They die over a course of weeks or months due to improper retrieval methods, climate changes, poor cultivation, and mistakes in planting medium selection. Many tourists from overseas also purchase these orchids. I have seen quite a few Japanese, Korean, and Caucasian buyers.

Due to these reasons, it is recommended not to buy orchids in this way since it is proving 

 

destructive to the environment and diminishing orchids in their natural habitats. Many of them are included in the list of endangered plant species. However, for certain types of orchids, such as the Phalaenopsis amabilis - locally known as anggrek bulan, one does not need to go into forests to find them.

The local settlers and farmers in the Puncak area have cultivated these orchids in their own gardens and yards without the flasking method. They simply beat the ripe seedpods against Cyathea slabs or coconut husks without the use of the Knudson media. The young seedlings are then attached to pieces of hardwood or tree branches, coconut fiber, slabs, or anything that is easily obtainable and suitable. When fully grown these orchids will appear, to the less knowledgeable, to look just like the jungle collected plants.