Pleurothallis palliolata – 365 days of orchids – day 1076

A dramatic display for anyone visiting our Cool Americas section this week is the ‘gaping mouths’ of hundreds of Pleurothallis palliolata flowers looking at you from the benches.

This is one of our favourite species and another that arrived with us as an unexpected ‘weed’ on a different plant. We were given our first plant of Octomeria grandiflora (day 317) in 1999 and soon noticed some very small leaves near its base that were the ‘wrong’  shape. These developed into the characteristic elongated heart shaped leaves of Pleurothallis palliolata and eventually the large flowers settled the matter – we think the flowers look like lizards’ heads!

The species propagates freely by keikis on top of the older leaves and we now have a large number of small plants from the original as well as a second clone (shown here)

Pleurothallis palliolata is native to cool mountain forests in Costa Rica and Panama. We have seen closely related species growing in wet evergreen forest at 1400m on the Poas volcano in deep shade. We grow the species successfully both mounted and in pots and it has proved robust and straight forward to grow, so a good species to try if you are new to Pleurothallis.


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