Masdevallia tonduzii – 365 days of orchids – day 1779

This is one of our favourite Masdevallias and a treat to have it in flower for Orchid Christmas tomorrow evening (4pm-7pm all welcome)

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 warmer growing than most of our cloud forest Masdevallia species. As a result this is one of the few Masdevallia species that we grow in our Warm Americas section (min 15C), rather than in Cool Americas (min 12C) with most of our masadevallias. This suits Masdevallia tonduzii’s 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 orchids at Orchid Christmas? – the healthy way to happiness 🙂

If anyone is visiting the school greenhouse for the first time on Friday evening, the school postcode is BA3 3NQ – just follow the signs to the Orchid Project when you arrive.


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