Cuitlauziana pulchella / osmoglossum pulchellum / odontoglossum-pulchellum – 365 days of orchids – day 1504
A highlight this weekend is the flowering of this delicate little orchid that has been one of my favourites since I first came across its waxy fragrant flowers in the 1970s.
This exquisite and sweetly scented species species from Mexico and Central America is a cool growing species found in high altitude cool mossy forests from 1200 to 2600m and so we grow plants in our Cool Americas section, shaded and watered throughout the year.
The scent is reminiscent of almonds and is very popular amongst the noses of Orchid Project students. Fortunately the flowers are long lasting, which is unusual for such a scented flower and a plant which is diverting valuable resources to producing fragrance oils, and the species will still be in flower at the end of lockdown when students return. The flower stems are thin and flattened, and over time they become attractively arching and we avoid the widespread habit of fighting the graceful habit by enforcing vertical spikes with canes and ties.
We grow the species amongst our masdevallias (with which it shares its habitat) in our Cool Americas section with a minimum of 12C and lots of water throughout the year. It does particularly well in baskets. I first grew this species as a boy (45 years ago) and it is a species I wouldn’t be without.
The name Cuitlauziana pulchella reflects recent molecular studies into the Oncidium family and this species started life in the Orchid Project as Odontoglossum pulchellum and then Osmoglossum pulchellum before taking on its current name. Either way, ‘pulchellus’ is latin for ‘pretty’ which is a great choice for this pretty little orchid.