365 days of orchids – day 466 – Lepanthes elegantula


Lepanthes is a fascinating genus of mostly miniature orchids from tropical South and Central America that use deceit pollination similar to our native bee orchid by mimicking the sexual parts of a female fungus gnat to attract a male that pollinates the flower.

Lepanthes elegantula is one of the larger flowered species though still a small plant and the species is rarely out of flower on it long thin successively flowering spikes. As you can see we have a seed pod on one of the spikes so I guess one of the greenhouse gnats was tricked by a flower over the winter.

The species is native to cloud forests in Ecuador from 2800-3300m altitude and so we we grow plants in Cool America, in a wet and shady place, away from sunlight. We have seen lepanthes species in Costa Rica and always find them in mossy, dark, damp conditions.

The species flowers as a young plant and we currently have plants in flower in flask (photo below)

Let’s hope we have lots more viable seed to sow from the current seed pod.


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