A few years ago, I bought a plant labelled Coelogyne sparsa from the ubiquitous German nursery that I constantly talk about. I hadn’t seen this species for sale before, so I was quite excited to be able to get hold of it (C. sparsa is one of the ‘warm whites’ since my conditions are far too warm to grow C. mooreana and many of its hybrids). As my regular readers will know, this turned out to be C. chloroptera which wasn’t what I had expected, but it was a nice surprise nevertheless. About a year ago, I found a different source for C. sparsa, so I ordered it with a little trepidation (once bitten, twice shy!). When the plant arrived, it looked suspiciously like C. chloroptera, but as any grower will tell you, one Coelogyne can look very much like another, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and waited for it to flower. Even as the spike emerged, I was convinced it was going to turn out to be C. chloroptera, and it wasn’t until I saw white buds that I was finally convinced that it was indeed C. sparsa.
Coelogyne sparsa is a relatively small species from the Philippines and presents no trouble to grow. It enjoys warm, moist conditions and will stay compact. It blooms off the new growth before the leaves emerge (hysteranthous) and the flower looks quite a lot like C. nitida, but on an arching inflorescence. The flowers are lightly scented (quite pleasant) and all open within a few days of each other. The lovely lip markings make it quite a striking species.