Pleurothallis megalops – 365 days of orchids – day 1372

This extraordinary miniature species (closely related to this week’s barbosellas) has the moist extraordinarily large flowers. This is the first time we have featured it on 365 days of orchids and a real treat to examine it closely.

The plant is about 3cm high and produces masses of spikes carrying 2.5cm flowers each with an enormous (relatively) hairy lip. The flowers are produced in succession along the spikes and we have begun several months of being treated to these weird flowers.

Pleurothallis megalops is endemic to Ecuador where it is found at around 1600m in cool forests, so plants are very at home in our Cool Americas section where they grow in small baskets with great drainage but frequent watering. The flower spikes are really long (up to 15cm) and thin so they tend to become pendulous under the weight of the large flowers. The lip is reminiscent of our own native bee orchid and so perhaps the species has the same pseudo-copulation pollination strategy – keep an eye out in Ecuador for a big black hairy insect that looks like a Pleurothallis megalops lip!



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