Isabellia virginalis- 365 days of orchids – day 1430

This stunning little orchid often flowers for Christmas and this year it is out in time for our virtual Christmas Orchid Festival – do join us online using this link https://zoom.us/j/97501868004 between 6.30 and 7.30pm on the 3rd December.

This is one of Issy’s favourite orchids – after all it seems to be named after her! This year she has so far missed its flowering as Year 12s are home learning after a confirmed Covid case in their bubble. Fortunately the flowers are long lasting and will still be perfect when she returns.

Actually a lot of us claim Isabellia virginalis as one of our favourite orchids. This close up shows the beautiful little flowers, that I would suggest are moth pollinated. The photo also shows the interesting basket like weave of fibres around the small pseudobulbs.

This fantastic miniature species comes from the Mata Atlantica, Brazil where it grows in cool forests with a wet summer and dryer winter (A habitat we have had the pleasure of exploring). It comes from the same habitat as many of the plants in our Cool Americas section and we grow it mounted and high up so that it has a little more light and less moisture than some of the other cloud forest species in this section.

We still haven’t found any thorough research on the evolutionary advantage of the basket weave protection but perhaps it could be protection against extreme weather or pests? If anyone has a theory please let us know. It is a reminder that the world’s rain forests are full of science experiments/observations that are still to be done.


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