Polystachya vulcanica – 365 days of orchids – day 923

This pretty African species is looking a picture this morning.

Polystachya is a common genus amongst African orchids and Polystachya vulcanica comes from the volcanic mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire (hence its lovely name – it doesn’t come from Vulcan!)

It lives in high altitude mossy forest similar to that we found on the upper slopes of Mount Bigugu in Rwanda. This is the highest point in Nyungwe national park at 3000m and the orchid is found from 1600-3000m. This habitat is very similar to South American cloud forests and so we grow the species in Cool Americas where we keep it moist and shaded all year.

Like most Polystachyas the species holds its flowers upside down (non-resupinate) and this flower is photographed from below to show the lovely colour combination. Flower spikes are produced in profusion and each produces sequential individual flowers over a period of months during the summer. Each flower stems produce several flowers over the summer months.


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