Schonburgkia splendida – 365 days of orchids – day 1547

Schomburgkia is a genus related to Cattleya, and includes a number of large growing plants with impressive spikes of unusual flowers. As you can see Schomburgkia splendida is a large growing plant with flower spikes a metre long that are topped by a closely packed group of 20-30 flowers.

Schomburgkia splendida is native to Ecuador and Colombia where it grows on trees and rocks in dryish forests around 600- 1000m. The unusually twisted flowers are produced in a starburst at the end of the spike and really demand close inspection. From a distance the brown flowers look to be old, dried up and dead, and one wonders whether this is an adaptation to avoid being eaten by grazing animals.

We grow the species in open compost in a mushroom crate high in our Warm Americas section where it experiences a suitably warm and bright environment and provides shade for other species below.

The only real challenge with the species is getting it down from the roof to photograph for this post. Fortunately Harris is very tall and as well as lifting it down he pollinated several flowers, so hopefully we will have seedlings in a couple of years.


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