365 days of orchids – day 692 – Penilabium struthio

Some orchid flowers last for months while others like the flowers on this miniature asian species only last a day or two. The nice things with short lived flowers is that you are encouraged to have a really good look at them when they do flower or else they are gone.

Penilabium struthio is native to South East Asia and Malaysia and is recorded growing in hot lowland forest near rivers. It has soft leaves suggesting it prefers shaded conditions. Although short lived the flowers is produced successively on short pendulous spikes so the species flowers several times each year. Our largest plant has four spikes and they are co-ordinated so that most of the spikes flower together.

We grow the plant mounted on cork where its flowers can be seen but as the photo shows the flowers point downwards so it is worth picking the plant up and turning it over for a close look.

The flowers are large for the size of the plant (2cm across) and they do have a remarkable lip with a spur.


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