365 days of orchids – day 692 – Penilabium struthio

Some orchid flowers last for months while others like the flowers on this miniature asian species only last a day or two. The nice things with short lived flowers is that you are encouraged to have a really good look at them when they do flower or else they are gone.

Penilabium struthio is native to South East Asia and Malaysia and is recorded growing in hot lowland forest near rivers. It has soft leaves suggesting it prefers shaded conditions. Although short lived the flowers is produced successively on short pendulous spikes so the species flowers several times each year. Our largest plant has four spikes and they are co-ordinated so that most of the spikes flower together.

We grow the plant mounted on cork where its flowers can be seen but as the photo shows the flowers point downwards so it is worth picking the plant up and turning it over for a close look.

The flowers are large for the size of the plant (2cm across) and they do have a remarkable lip with a spur.


365 days of orchids – day 691 – Masdevallia bulbophyllopsis

This is another of the delightful small multi-flowered masdevallias and this one is endemic to Ecuador. It is small growing but vigorous with 4cm leaves and 15cm flower spikes with about 6-12 flowers on each.

As you can see it does well for us in a small basket though we also find it does well in pots.

The species is found from 1800-2700m and so it is well suited to our Cool Americas section (Min 12C) where we keep it well watered and shaded.

This species is found in a wide range of colour variants and we also have a brown and yellow clone but this is our favourite with crystal white flowers and yellow tails.


365 days of orchids – day 690 – Coelogyne speciosum var. albicans

This coelogyne produces a succession of large flowers on short pendulous flower spikes from relatively compact plants.

Coelogyne speciosum is native to Malaysia, Borneo, Java and Sumatra where it is reported from 700-2000m altitude. This variety has more white on the lip than is usual and a light green flower colour where the more usual colour is variations of yellow and brown.

We grow the species in Warm Asia (min 18C) although its range indicates that it could be grown cooler. Each short flower stem produces two or three  flowers that bloom successively over several months and on a large plant can give a very impressive display


We keep the species well watered throughout the year. It produces the odd flower at anytime through the year but the main flowering is in the summer.

The large hairy lip is well worth a close inspection. The species is probably pollinated by large bees.


365 days of orchids – day 689 – Cleisostoma arietinum

Cleisostomas are small flowered relatives of Vanda with a range of growth habits but rather similar prettly little flowers that tend to open successively along relatively long flower spikes.

This is the ‘bent’ cleisostoma referring to the curved terete leaves. It is a warm growing species from South East Asia, India and Malaysia where it grows pendulously. We have seen related species growing in Arunachal Pradesh, North East India, and in Laos, amongst a mass of orchids (Dendrobiums, Pholidotas, Erias and others) on the lower branches of semi-deciduous trees along rivers and in open forest.

We find Cleisostomas work well mounted where their attractive growth habits can be enjoyed and the plants are able to dry out well between waterings. As this is a warm growing species we hang it high in our Warm Asia section where temperatures are highest.


365 days of orchids – day 688 – Isabellia virginalis

This is one of Issy’s favourite orchids – after all it seems to be named after her! Actually a lot of us count Isabellia virginalis as one of our favourite orchids. This close up shows the beautiful little flowers (thanks Ben for the photo) and then there is the interesting basket like weave of fibres around the small pseudobulbs.

This fantastic miniature species comes from the Mata Atlantica, Brazil where it grows in cool forests with a wet summer and dryer winter (A habitat we have had the pleasure of exploring). It comes from the same habitat as many of the plants in our Cool Americas section and we grow it mounted and high up so that it has a little more light and less moisture than some of the other cloud forest species in this section.

I still haven’t found any thorough research on the evolutionary advantage of the basket weave protection but perhaps it could be protection against extreme weather or pests? Unfortunately we don’t have enough plants to carry out a controlled experiment with slugs!

Joe’s took this photograph of the same plant 12 months ago and the photos show that the species is growing well with quite extensive new roots and leaves. I wonder how many flowers we will get next year?