Rothschild's Slipper Orchid

The Most Expensive Orchid in the world

Do you know Sabah has the most expensive orchid in the world?

Come meet Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid (species: Paphiopedilum rothschildianum) from Kinabalu Park. This orchid is sold for USD5,000 per stem in black market.

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum or Rothschild's Slipper
There are 3 reasons why Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid, “the aristocrat of all slipper orchids”, is so expensive:

  1. It’s a rare and endangered species, endemic to Kinabalu Park.
  2. It takes 15 years to grow and bloom.
  3. It’s beautiful!

Sumazau Orchid
It’s also locallly known as Sumazau Orchid, because the long sweeping side petals of flower look like the outspread arms of dancer of Sumazau, the most popular traditional dance of Sabah (see photos below).

Sumazau dance

Sumazau dance by Kadazan couple

Tour package to climb Mount Kinabalu

The stem of Sumazau Orchid can hold up to six flowers, but usually it is only 3 to 4 flowers. Someone told me that the flower of Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid in the wild has brighter red color.

Gold of Kinabalu
Due to its high value, it also earns the nickname “Gold of Kinabalu”. Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid only grows on the slope of Mt. Kinabalu between 500 and 1,200 Meters in altitude. Most local villagers and orchid smugglers know this and steal the flower, making them vulnerable to extinction. I know a ranger in Sabah Parks once fined a tourist RM1,000 for stealing orchid from the national park.

Orchid Conservation Center of Poring

entrance of Orchid Conservation Center
Well, though I can’t afford to buy Rothschild’s Slipper Orchid, I can afford to see it at Orchid Garden of Poring Hot Springs park for only a few dollars (Ticket Fee: RM5≈USD1.50 for Malaysian adult, RM10≈USD3 for foreigner adult).

Research and Education Building
You can buy the ticket from Poring Conservation Center (see photo above) not far away from the Orchid Garden. The Orchid Garden of Poring is open daily from 9am to 4pm.

Orchid Garden of Poring

Poring Orchid Farm
Besides the famous Sumazau Orchid, there are 600 orchid species in this garden, which includes other famous orchid such as Renanthera bella, Phalaenopsis gigantea, Phalaenopsis labukensis, Dimorphorchis rossii and Bulbophyllum species.

native Borneo orchid
Most of the native orchids have tiny flowers so you have to search carefully. The garden is quite big, orchid lovers could spend a full day here just to look for different orchid flowers.

lace orchid
Above: Coelogyne rhabdobulbon orchid species

native orchid
There is an estimated 2,000+ orchid species in Borneo, and you can find over 700 species (belonging to 121 genera) in Kinabalu Park alone, which is over 30 percent of Borneo orchid species.

green orchid
Above: Green Orchid

More Photos

You may check out my photo album on Poring for more nice pictures:
Photo gallery of Poring

Related posts:
The largest orchid leaf in the world
The longest orchid leaf in the world

Other articles about Poring Hot Springs Park:

  1. Poring Hot Springs bath
  2. Poring Canopy Walkway
  3. Gardens of Poring
  4. Accommodation at Poring
  5. Jackie, orangutan who owns a house
  6. Waterfalls of Poring
  7. Night walk in Poring rainforest

Photos taken in Poring, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

2 thoughts on “The Most Expensive Orchid in the world

  1. Hello Murphy. I enjoy your travel blogs, and appreciate your efforts to provide information on the wonders of Sabah. I hope you don’t mind my advising that in your Poring photo album, Section 7, the 2 photos labeled as “leaf insects” actually are pygmy grasshoppers (Family Tetrigidae, Order Orthoptera). This is a little-known very interesting group, many of which resemble dried leaves. Though I have seen many different species in Sabah, the ones you photographed are new to me. Well done! FYI, I am an entomologist and herpetologist from California who has lived in Sabah for the past 15 years. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Larry, thank you so much for the identification. I always try to name the fauna and flora that I photograph, but got it wrong often due to my limited knowledge. If you love insects and herping, Nuluhon Trusmadi (Borneo Jungle Girl Camp) and Sayap substation of Kinabalu Park are highly recommended.

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