Fūkiran Society of America
The Fūkiran Society of America was established January 1, 2012, as an offshoot of the Japan Fūkiran Society. The mission of this society is to promote the growing of Fūkiran in the United States and Canada, as well as around the world! Once only available in Japan, Fūkiran varieties of Neofinetia falcata have been made available to American growers in the past 10 years.
We invite you to join the society. There is no cost to be a member, and we welcome members from all countries. Currently there will be updates to the website on a monthly basis. New pages will be added periodically. We welcome your comments.
Neofinetia falcata Culture
WATER & FERTILIZER
POTTING MEDIUM & POTS
Instructions on how to repot your Fūkiran / Neofinetia in the traditional Japanese method using a moss mound.
The materials needed include:
- 3 leg Neofinetia pot, either plastic or clay
- 3A New Zealand Sphagnum moss
- 5A New Zealand Sphagnum moss
- Bottle or long neck vase
Here is an excellent instructional Youtube video by Jason Fisher of Orchids Ltd on how to repot your Neofinetia. To watch this 10-minute video, click here. At any time you desire to stop watching the video, or when it ends, you can click outside of the video area to close the video. Once the video has concluded, you will see a display of additional videos to enjoy.
The cultivation of Fūkiran has a long history, originating in Japan's Edo era, about 400 years ago.
Furan or wind orchid, the Japanese name for Neofinetia falcata, started to be called 'Fūki-ran', which means the orchid of the rich and noble people. Many years ago, only the rich and royalty could own Fūkiran, and they searched the country far and wide for rare and unusual varieties. These plants were often covered by a gold or silver net in order to protect them, and people had to cover their mouths with Kaishi (a thin paper usually used for calligraphy) in order not to breathe on the plants while they appreciated them. This, by the way, is the same way the Japanese appreciate a great sword. This was an important time for Fūkiran as they became established into the Japanese culture. After the Meiji restoration in 1868, the Japanese government brought in Western culture and people became fascinated with tropical orchids that were more colorful and gorgeous. Consequently, interest in Fūkiran declined until the early 1900's.
In 1920, the All Japanese Fūkiran Society was formed, where members would discuss and display their prized Fūkiran. Society members never gave up on their traditional plants. Small society meetings gave way to larger ones culminating with a large Fukiran exhibition in Osaka. Since this event, Fūkiran interest has been increasing both in Japan and abroad. It was through the continued efforts of senior society members that Fūkiran survive and thrive today, in spite of effects brought on by war and the march of time.
Compared to the time when most Fūkiran would bring the price of a house with a big garden, many new kinds have been found and their prices have come down dramatically because of reproduction from seedlings. This has made Fūkiran more familiar and available to the public. The popularity of Fūkiran has expanded around the world, including Korea, Europe, and most recently, the United States. This is because with their varied leaf forms, leaf colors, flowers and fragrance, they have a distinct fascination from other orchids. Fūkiran also provide years of enjoyment as the plant becomes more beautiful with each passing year.
Fukiran Varietal Names
The Japanese have given all of the Fūkiran varieties a Japanese name. These are often phonetically spelled out in English. Some are descriptive of the leaf and flower, or just named for places or beautiful things. Here is a partial list of varietal names and their translation:
|Amanogawa - River of Heaven
Aojiku - Green Axis
Asahiden - Rising Sun Lord
Daisekai - Big Sacred Sea
Fugaku - Mount Fuji
Gekkeikan - Laurel Crown
Gojyo Fukurin - Castle Fukurin
Hakuun - White Snow
|Hanagoromo - Clothes of a Flower
Hoshiguruma - Star Car
Kinkosei - Golden Light Star
Kocho No Mai - Butterfly Dance
Kohou - Yellow Treasure
Kutsuwamushi - Chirping Cricket
|Momo Hime - Peach Princess
Nishi De Miyako - West Side Kyoto
Seiryujishi - Blue dragon backbone lion
Setsuzan - Snow Mountain
Seikai - Blue ocean
Shou Ten Nou - Red Emperor
Suikaden - Imperial flag
Unkai - Sea of clouds
Yodonomatsu - Pine of Yodo
Above information (right-side) is from the Fūkiran American Society's web site and you can find that here.
An Overview of the History of Neofinetia falcata
By Terry Kowalczuk
As I was wondering how to write this article, I began to realize that Neofinetia falcata is a sort of ‘no fly zone’ in many people’s minds. Indeed it seems that one has to fly to Japan to get these gorgeous gems. At least this is the case when it comes to the Japanese varieties. There are many aspects to this fascinating species including history, variety characteristics and cultivation, just to name a few. I will limit this article to a description of this plant and to its unique history so that you may appreciate a little of what makes this plant so special. Welcome to the wonderful world of Neofinetia falcata!
Yes Neofinetia falcata is a single species of orchid native to Japan. If there is one thing I would like you to take away from this, before we look at its history, is that Neofinetia falcata is quite simply a species that has transformed itself into thousands of varieties – one species with over 2300 distinct varieties! These varieties have evolved from the regular or ‘wild’ form that we have for years seen for sale in North America and it is called fūran in Japanese. Fūran means wind orchid. Fūran, can be found from the Southwest Kantō Region to Okinawa in Japan. In the wild, the roots of fūran grow firmly attached to trees and rocks and the flowers appear to fly in the wind. The plants are small and produce extremely graceful white flowers that have a fantastic scent, which incidentally is one of the most complex in the orchid world.
What makes this plant so interesting and unique is its place in Japanese culture and history. The history, culture, and appreciation of this plant are unlike any other in the orchid world and are steeped in a rich tradition of collecting, starting in Japan’s Edo Era from 1603 to 1868. For the last 400 years, the Japanese have been collecting Neofinetia falcata that exhibit unique traits that are visibly different from fūran – the wild form. Fūran with unique characteristics were given an elegant name called fūkiran which translates to ‘the orchid for the noble and rich’. Collectors were slowly able to find plants with different coloured flowers, variegation in the leaves, or very different leaf shapes and textures. It is very important to note that to the Japanese the appreciation of fūkiran is a form of art and the cultivation of fūkiran is a part of Japanese culture and heritage.
Although there is evidence of the appreciation of fūkiran before the Edo Era, it was during this time that fūkiran was furiously collected. This was a calm and peaceful time in Japan, a time when engei or traditional Japanese gardening flourished. Some of the plants collected at this time were Calanthe, Cymbidium goeringii and karan, Dendrobium moniliforme and Omoto, the latter a very interesting plant but not an orchid. Collectors were on the lookout for trees, grasses and plants with weird variegation. It was considered fashionable to collect these kinds of plants and this was considered the first boom of fūkiran. All of the above mentioned plants often exhibit weird mutations or forms and some of these like the Omoto and Dendrobium moniliforme could fetch astronomical amounts. A single mutated Neofinetia falcata growth could be valued at the cost of buying or building a house! Ienari Tokugawa, the 11th Shogun of the Edo Era was a serious collector of fūkiran. People within the Japanese hierarchy would feverishly seek out mutated fūkiran to present to the Shogun as gifts.
So fūkiran were indeed plants for the rich and wealthy. Appreciation of a fūkiran was an interesting event. The Shogun would have a gold or silver net covering the fūkiran. To look at them one would use the same procedure as looking at a samurai sword. When the flower was in bloom, the Shogun would hang the plant outside the carriage when he went out. Things were not always rosy for fūkiran. At the end of the Edo Era, Japan experienced a period where lavishness and elegance was prohibited. In 1868, imperial rule was restored in Japan during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), and with it came a renewed appreciation for fūkiran. The Meiji Government encouraged culture from Europe and North America including the introduction of Western orchids. In fact Western orchids became very popular to collect albeit only the wealthy could afford them. This new craze of course took its toll on the popularity of fūkiran but several crazy collectors continued to keep them.
Fast forward to the 20th century. Modes do change and fūkiran collecting suffered from time to time, however there were those who remained guardians of this honoured and respected tradition. The second Neofinetia boom occurred between 1927 and 1943 at which time the plants were very expensive. It was said that when one bought a fūkiran, he was subjected to have a party at a restaurant to “unveil” the fūkiran. However, at this time, the only people who could enjoy fūkiran were those with a high social status such as a doctor, CEO of a company, military elite, and nobility. Everyday people had no chance to enjoy fūkiran. Most importantly, in 1939, the All Japan Fūkiran Society was formed. Following WWII the Japanese were in no mood to enjoy fūkiran; however two key events triggered the modern revival. In 1970 a book called ‘Fūkiran’ was published in Osaka and an artistic orchid show was held in Japan in 1973. From then until now, fūkiran suddenly has become more accessible to ordinary people.
Today fūkiran may be enjoyed by all. It is important to note that the All Japan Fūkiran Society in Japan does not base the value of the plants on North American or European judging standards and the desirability is determined by its own standards and rankings. Since the beginning, the Japanese have published hierarchy charts for the most valuable of the Neofinetia varieties, but this is for another article! My own trip to Japan was eye opening. I discovered that these are amazing gems, compact and not difficult to grow! and although you do not need to mortgage your house to buy one, however!!! you may still need to fly to Japan to add your name to a 10-year long waiting list for the most rare varieties. The Japanese were very accommodating; I even learned correct potting techniques from the man who repots yearly for the Imperial Household. I am pleased to share this information with you and to make these plants readily available in Canada. This is the first of a series of articles on this species as the traditions surrounding fūkiran are rich. These are truly amazing orchids, unlike any others!
A note about variegation: Those Neofinetia with variegated leaves have specific light requirement in order to maintain the variegation in the leaves. Marginal variegation (fuukurin), stripe (shima), and yellow tiger stripe types must be grown in high light (3500 foot-candles). An exception is the white tiger stripe varieties, which require a lower amount of light to maintain the variegation. Some varieties have more yellow leaves than the other types and sometimes the leaves are almost completely yellow. These plants should be grown in a shadier place in order to encourage green growths.
Neofinetia is not a difficult orchid to grow. We would be more than happy to help you with any aspects of their culture and to understand the many varieties of this fascinating Japanese species. In addition, we will be happy to teach you the traditional Neofinetia potting technique.
With the generous assistance of Michael Hwang
Terry is a Neofinetia specialist in Toronto with one of the largest Neofinetia retail collections in Canada.
Copyright Terry Kowalczuk www.florapeculia.com 416 828-8023
Botanyboy's How to Grow a fuukiran, the basics