Polystachya galeata – 365 days of orchids – day 1702

There aren’t many days in the year that our plants of Polystachya galeata aren’t in flower but yesterday I was reminded that it is well worth stopping for a close look at their subtle but attractive pink, green and cream flowers.

Like most polystachyas this species is African and is found in Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zaire and Angola. The broad distribution results in a wide range of colour forms. The species is native to hot lowland evergreen forests from 400-1000m altitude and so we grow plants in our Warm Asia section (we don’t have a Warm Africa section) in shade with a minimum of 17C.

This orchid has the typical features of a polystachya flower; it is non-resupinate (up-side-down), has large lateral sepals that form a hood, and has flowers that open in succession on a flower spike produced from the base of the single leaf that grows on a cylindrical pseudobulb.

The flowers are really worth a close look from underneath as this reveals the beautiful colour combinations hidden from above and so growing plants in a basket is a good idea. It is nice to compare plants with their close relatives Polystachya vulcanica (below) and remember visits to the wonderful forests of Rwanda. Let us hope that we return soon.


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