This gorgeous miniature orchid with large flowers is the latest Aerangis species to open it flowers. Looking back the Autumn and winter have given us six Aerangis species including this one and these demonstrate the diversity of form present in the genus despite the limited colour palette. Here are Aerangis verdickii, luteo-alba, arachnopus, biloba and mystacidii as a reminder.
Getting back to Aerangis fastuosa, the name means ‘the magnificent aerangis’ referring to the very large flowers for the very small plant – the rosette is just 7cm across. As you can just see in the side on photo (below), the flower has a very long spur (10cm) that contains the nectar. This feature is shared with most Aerangis and is an adaption for pollination by long tongued hawk moths and amongst our six Aerangis species only Aerangis verdickii has a longer spur.
Aerangis fastuosa is endemic to Madagascar and is found as a twig epiphyte in evergreen forest from 1000 to 1500m altitude. The plant shown is a first flowering seedling in a 5.5cm pot and as it matures the flower number will increase. In Africa we have found a number of smaller aerangis species growing in deep shade and this habit makes them well suited to indoor culture. The plant grows with a minimum of 15C which seems to suit this species perfectly. The plant is growing in course bark and the top of the compost is sprayed most days with rainwater (and added weak feed).