Platystele stenostchya – 365 days of orchids – day 1004

We have some very small flowered orchids and an extreme case is this tiny orange flowered species from South and Central America.

Platystele stenostachya is a mini-miniature found all the way from Mexico in the north to Peru in the South. It has been reported from sea level up to 1700m and with such a range is not surprisingly a variable species in terms of flower colour and shape. Our plants have tiny golden star like flowers with a deep orange lip. The species is almost always in flower and a really interesting addition to any collection.

The species is a tough little grower and produces lots of roots suggesting it can cope in dryer conditions that a lot of the tiny members of the pleurothallis family. We have had this plant for a few years and it is approaching specimen size. This week it is covered with flowers as the overall impact is subtly spectacular.


Coelogyne speciosum var. albicans – 365 days of orchids – day 1003

During our recent visit to Borneo we saw a number of warm growing Coelogyne species in large trees such as the photo below.

The plants are growing in shade on the lower branches of trees close to a limestone cliff.

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.


Bulbophyllum masdevalliaceum – 365 days of orchids – day 1002

We are often drawing comparisons between our orchid species but this one has gone a step further being a bulbophyllum named after the genus Masdevallia.

This is a new species for 365 days and it was a lovely surprise this morning to find this seedling with its first flower. The species is native to Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea where it grows in hot lowland forest up to 500m. Its resemblance to Masdevallias from South and Central America is very startling and a great example of parallel evolution. – here are some of ours for comparison:

Being from Australia I guess that our little Bulbophyllum will be glued to today’s Ashes test match just like me.



Cattleya maxima – 365 days of orchids – day 1001

One perfect subject for the film team down at the Aardman Studios is Cattleya maxima with its flamboyant, large, pink flowers.

Cattleya maxima is one of the real stars of autumn in the school greenhouse and is native to South America from Venezuela down to Peru. It grows in forests from sea level up to 1500m making it an accommodating and straight forward species to grow. We find in enjoys baskets hung high in Warm Americas and keep it watered throughout the year.

We have this free flowering pink clone as well as the blue grey coerulea variety. We look forward to seeing it feature in the new wildlife film and of course this plant is already a star as the local council chose it to to put on the road sign welcoming drivers to the village of Writhlington – a tropical twist to the North Somerset Coalfield. The village of Writhlington is also famous for its coal mine – the last to close in Somerset – and the coal tip which has provided remarkable fossils of giant dragonflies.



Time lapse masterclass

Orchid Project were back at Aardman studios in Bristol today where our orchids are being time lapsed for a wildlife film. The photo here shows our photograph experts, Otto, Joe and Ed making the most of discussing technical details with Richard. I am sure they implementing their own time lapse projects at School.

We are really enjoying working with the film team and look forward to visiting again in a couple of weeks as we continue our rotation  of orchid species just about to bloom.

We also had time for a quick photo with Wallace and Gromit