Angraecum sesquipedale – 365 days of orchids – day 1461

Happy Christmas from all of us here at the Orchid Project. We have a wonderful orchid for Christmas Day – Angraecum sesqipedale from Madagascar

The large star like flower opens slightly greenish and this fades to a glowing creamy white in the next day or two.

This species is commonly known as Darwin’s comet orchid reflecting the well known story of Darwin predicting that there must be a moth on Magagascar (where the species is found) with a proboscis over a foot long so that it can reach the nectar at the end of the long spur (Josh measured ours at now 32cm). The moth was subsequently found and is a hawk moth (Xanthopan morganii preadicta).

The spur is certainly extraordinary…as is the scent at night with the very heady (if rather chemically) fragrance which is worth visiting the greenhouse at night for.

The species is endemic to Madagascar where it grows in warm wet rainforest near sea level on the North East of the Island. We grow the species in Warm Asia and find it does well in baskets and appreciates a little more in the way of waster and plant food than some of our orchids in the section.

On a cold Christmas day like today, how wonderful to be transported to distant tropical places by our plants.


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  1. Agnes Jones says:

    Happy Christmas everyone.

    Angraecum Sesquipedale, also known as Star of Bethlehem orchid, is one of my favourite orchids and although discovered in the early 1820s, was not successfully brought to Britain until 1857 by Rev William Ellis.

    According to Jim Endersby in his book Orchid, Sesquipedale means one and a half feet long. The Angraecum was named by Louis- Marie Albert – Albert du Petit -Thouras, who discovered it in the 1820’s.