Polystachya vulcanica – 365 days of orchids – day 1668

This floriferous little orchid species is native to Rwanda and reminds us of our wonderful Rwandan partners. We are delighted that the Amazon Longitude Prize money (see Mendip students win runners up prize in National competition) will help in our work with our school partners in FAWE School, Kigali (Photo below from our last expedition)

Polystachya is a common genus amongst African orchids and we have seen species in South African woodland as well as  Rwanda. As its name suggests, Polystachya vulcanica comes from the volcanic mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire (it doesn’t come from Vulcan!)

Polystachya vulcanica is native to high altitude mossy forest similar to that we found on the upper slopes of Mount Bigugu in Rwanda (more information here and orchids here). This is the highest point in Nyungwe national park at 3000m and the orchid is found from 1600-3000m. This habitat is very similar to South American cloud forests and so we grow the species in Cool Americas where we keep it moist and shaded all year.

Like most Polystachyas the species holds its flowers upside down (non-resupinate) and this flower is photographed from below to show the lovely colour combination. Flower spikes are produced in profusion and each produces sequential individual flowers over a period of months during the summer. Each flower stems produce several flowers over the summer months. The plant flowering today is a recent division and we will have plants for sale in the near future.


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