Angraecum sesquipedale – 365 days of orchids – day 1816

The morning has woken cold, frosty and crystal white while inside the greenhouse is warm a sparkling with Angraecum sesquipedale.

The large star like flowers opens greenish and this fades to a glowing creamy white in the next day or two.

This species is commonly known as Darwin’s comet orchid reflecting the well known story of Darwin predicting that there must be a moth on Magagascar (where the species is found) with a proboscis over a foot long so that it can reach the nectar at the end of the long spur (Josh measured ours at now 32cm). The moth was subsequently found and is a hawk moth (Xanthopan morganii preadicta).

The spur is certainly extraordinary…as is the scent at night with the very heady (if rather chemically) fragrance which is worth visiting the greenhouse at night for.

The species is endemic to Madagascar where it grows in warm wet rainforest near sea level on the North East of the Island. We grow the species in Warm Asia and find it does well in baskets and appreciates a little more in the way of waster and plant food than some of our orchids in the section.

Our plant here is celebrating 2022 with four flowers (two are still buds) despite it having the stress of filming for green planet last year – look out for it in future episodes.


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