We are in the season of short summer nights but visiting the greenhouse after dark is a must to appreciate the heady scent of this miniature orchid with enormous flowers.
The name Angraecum elephantinum means gigantic angraecum but it is actually one of our smallest Angraecum species.
This plant is flowering for the fifth time eight years out of flask and is just 10cm high and 8cm across. Of course it is the flower that is gigantic compared to the plant and with two flowers out today the flowers pretty much hides the whole plant.
The species comes from the mountains of Madagascar and the plant can be grown quite cool – we are growing it here at a minimum of 10C. In common with many Madagascan angraecums it has a very long spur with nectar in the end and so is pollinated by very long tongued hawk moths. The large lip is there to guide the tongue to the opening of the spur at the top of the lip. Moth pollination also explains the night scent of the species. To me the scent of this species is a mixture of Deep Heat and almonds.
This plant was one of the BOC babies given away in vitro at our first British Orchid Congress in October 2012 – this was one of the left over small ones – but well worth growing on. We mounted it on cork straight from the flask and it grows wet and bright so sprayed daily and near the top of a cool greenhouse. We will pollinate the flowers to see if we can raise some more seedlings for the future. If anyone out there has their BOC 2012 Angraecum in flower too – please send us a photo.