365 days of orchids – day 679 – Epidendrum paniculatum

It is not just our monster orchids that the public have enjoyed in the greenhouse but our wonderful diversity of smaller species too.

Epidendrum paniculatum is a lovely species and as traditionally described was found throughout Central and South America in cool wet forest above 1000m but the complex (group of similar species) has been split into several species with the true Epidendrum paniculatum being endemic to Peru. If there are any Epidendrum experts out there who could suggest a current name for this member of the Epidendrum paniculatum complex we would be delighted.

We grow the species in baskets and it flowers from small plants 15cm high with a few flowers and when taller produces many flowers on branched spikes.

We were fortunate to observe a glass wing butterfly pollinating the similar Epidendrum piliatum in Costa Rica on our last school expedition there.

The photo clearly shows how the butterfly uses the edges of the lip to brace itself for pushing its proboscis into the flower below the column and explains the shape of these lovely flowers.




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