365 days of orchids – day 139 – Polystachya vulcanica

Polystachya is a common genus amongst African orchids and this small growing species comes from the volcanic mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire (hence its lovely name – it doesn’t come from Vulcan!)

It comes from high altitude mossy forest similar to that we found on the upper slopes of Mount Bigugu in Rwanda. This is the highest point in Nyungwe national park at 3000m and the orchid is found from 1600-3000m. This habitat is very similar to South American cloud forests and so we grow the species in Cool Americas where we keep it moist and shaded all year.

Like most Polystachyas the species holds its flowers upside down (non-resupinate) and this flower is photographed from below to show the lovely colour combination. Flower spikes are produced in profusion and each produces sequential individual flowers over a period of months during the summer.

We have recently sown seed from this plant and we are hoping to have some plants available soon as well as sending seedlings to our partners in Rwanda at FAWE School and the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management.


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