This is a new species for 365 days of orchids and the first flowering of a seedling we have been growing for 9 years – so cause for celebration.
Like its close relative Myrmecophyila tibicinis, Myrmecophila humboldtii has long spikes (this one is 1.2m long) with large flowers towards the top that open sequentially. The flowers have a sweet fragrance and sugary liquid around the buds presumably to feed the ants with which the plant associates.
We have seen lots of Myrmecophila tibicinis growing in Central America but Myrmecophila humboldtii is found in Venezuela and nearby islands (the Netherland Antilles). The species is native to hot drying lowland forests near the coast and we replicate these conditions by hanging the plant high in our Warm Americas section in a basket of course bark. The plant is then very little trouble apart from the need to drop it lower when it flowers to allow for the length of the spike.