Masdevallia tonduzii – 365 days of orchids – day 1400

For our 1400th consecutive daily orchid post, of a species in flower, I am pleased to celebrate one of my favourite Masdevallias.

Masdevallia tonduzii is a small growing Masdevallia with very large flowers . The plant shown here is in a 3cm pot and so the leaves are 5cm long and the flowers 12cm across including the tails, and hairy inside. The species is native to Costa Rica and Panama where it grows in forests from 400-1400m altitude making this a bit warmer growing than most of our cloud forest Masdevallia species.

As I reported last year we now grow this in our Warm Americas section, rather than in Cool Americas with most of our masadevallias, to suit its preference for higher temperatures and a brighter environment with dryer air, although we water the species very heavily, as witnessed by the thick layer of mass that has grown on the compost surface. The plant is slowly getting bigger in its preferred environment and has three flowers and another five buds. Hopefully it will soon be in need of splitting so that we can share this wonderful species around.

As I have said before, the species is named after Adolphe Tonduz a Swiss naturalist who was invited to Costa Rica as part of a drive for education and science in the country in the 1880s. He contributed greatly to knowledge of the amazing plant diversity of Costa Rica between 1889 and 1920 but sadly died an alcoholic aged 59. If you would like to know more about his life and work there is a great article about him.

This little orchid will also remind us of the importance of not spending too much on alcohol – so why not spend your money on Masdevallias? – the healthy way to happiness 🙂


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