Restrepia striata (unusual form with split synsepal and anthocyanin pigment) – 365 days of orchids – day 1432
Restrepia striata is a wonderfully floriferous and straight forward species to grow in a small space. This specimen in a 10cm basket has been in flower for two weeks and has lots of buds to come.
We have several forms of Restrepia striata and this one is notable for its very red leaves and deeply coloured flowers with a clearly split synsepal (made from two joined lateral sepals) at the base of the flower. The red colour of the leaves (and darker flowers) are due to a natural pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment responds to ultraviolet light levels and gives ‘sun tan’ in many orchid leaves in a similar way to the pigment melanin in our skin. It is also responsible for some orchids producing much brighter stronger pink and red colours in summer flowers than winter ones. Different species and different clones produce more anthocyanin in their leaves – something to look out for in your own orchid collection.
Restrepia striata is native to South America where it is found from Colombia to Peru in wet forest from 1200-3000m. We find this species straight forward in cultivation as it seems tolerant of a wide range of light levels and temperatures. We grow it in Cool Americas and enjoy flowers throughout the winter months.