365 days of orchids – day 687 – Elleanthus amethysinus
This is a terrestrial found from Venezuela to Peru that grows on open rocky slopes in cool montane forrest from 1500-2000m altitude. It produces long, thin, upright stems (ours are about 1m – 1.5m long) and these produce terminal flowers in little clumps (see photo below with Ruby). The weight of the flowers pull the stems sideways and the flowers end up hanging from the stems which gives easy access for the humming bird pollinators.
The flowers are heavy nectar producers, again to attract humming birds, and last a couple of weeks.
We grow the species in pots of open compost and keep them well watered throughout the year. Flowering is sporadic, so there is often a stem with flowers, but happens mostly in the autumn for us. We grow the species in our Cool Americas Section.
Elleanthus is related to Sobralia (below) which has a similar growth habit but few large short lived flowers.
These two genera add an interesting diversity to our collection and we would not be without them.