Masdevallia picea – 365 days of orchids – day 1989

The current warm weather is bringing out the scents from all our orchids (scents are volatile chemicals that evaporate and so spread through the air much more effectively in warm air) whether those scents are lovely – like last weekend’s Prosthechea radiata or putrid like the scent of Masdevallia picea.

This species is loved by the orchid project students for its foul smell.

Masdevallia picea is native to cloud forests in Peru at around 2700m altitude where its large deep red flowers attract fly pollinators assisted by the scent of rotting stuff – it reminds me of vomit, and not in a good way! Despite the smell it is a really intriguing orchid, and one I would not be without. As well as bing large and attractive, the flowers are waxy and long lasting – and of course a real talking point when we have visitors.


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