Pleurothallis urseolata – 365 days of orchids – day 1507


This is one of our largest Pleurothallis speices and a wonderful sight this week. Many pleurothallis species are small plants or even tiny miniatures but some like this species are large dramatic plants with thousands of small flowers on a mature plant. This plant stands 80cm high and is still a relatively young plant.

The flowers have been in bud (like tiny bird’s beaks) for a while and it does take a close inspection to see the fine thread like petals that show flowers have opened. The flowers are not large but the long pendulous flower spikes are very attractive especially since individual leaves can produce up to ten flower spikes.

We are struck with its resemblance to Dendrochilum magnum (below) a species that is not related and comes from the other side of the world. Is this a good case of parallel evolution as both are adapted for a fairly small fly pollinator and present their flowers in a similar way from very different plants.

Pleurothallis urceolata is native to Ecuador where it grows in cloud forests from 1500-2900m altitude and in common with many of the larger leaved pleurothallis it enjoys being kept wet and shaded especially in the summer when overheating can lead to dark blotches on the leaves. This species produces abundant roots which makes culture easier especially in warm weather. To satisfy its culture preference we grow plants hanging low in our cool Americas section where it remains cooler and damper on hot summer days (see flowering in its normal home below)


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