Our monster plant of Maxillaria sophronitis is exploding in little red flowers just in time for Christmas.
Maxillaria sophronitis is as bright as any Holly berry and this is to attract its humming bird pollinator in the wet rainforests of Colombia and Venezuela. It is found from 750m to 1500m altitude and so we grow it in both our Warm Americas and our Cool America sections. It seems not to be fussy on temperatures.
We have two very distinct clones of this species. A small growing clone (flowering now) with 4cm leaves and 1cm flowers and a larger clone that is with 6cm leaves and flowers approximately double the size. In other respects the two clones are very similar.
The species’ adaptation for humming bird pollination is interesting. As well as the usual red/yellow flowers to attract a humming bird it has developed a growth habit where it forms a ball but always presents its flowers on the outside of the ball to give easy access for hovering birds.
We find plants enjoy lots of water and good light to flower well.
Here is one of our favourite humming bird photos.
In 2000 on our first visit to Brazil students took this lovely photograph of a humming bird visiting Cattleya wittigiana. Students recorded six species visiting the flowers but only one species of hummingbirds removing pollen.