This is an unusual Central and South American member of the Oncidium family . It grows long stems of overlapping short pointed leaves similar to a group of unrelated Dendrobiums for Asia.
The clusters of long lasting flowers emerge from between the leaves and several year’s stems flower together.
We have seen this species growing in wet evergreen forest along rivers in Costa Rica at 1400m altitude but it can be found up to 2600m from Mexico in the north to Colombia in the South.
We grow this species mounted and in pots but mounted plants present best as the stems develop a pendulous habit over time.
Lockhartia oerstedii in Costa Rica
This is a fragrant species from Central America. We have seen it growing abundantly in hot lowland forests in Guatemala and Belize and the best place we have found to find it in the wild is to visit the Ancient Mayan city of Tikal where it is east to spot from the tops of the excavated Mayan Pyramids.
The photograph here shows one of the large plants (in bud) near this pyramid which makes the climb up the wooden steps well worth it.
The orchids in this forest are dominated by large specimens which indicates that the dryish conditions do not suit the establishment of seedlings except on particularly wet years.
Our plant is even bigger than the Tikal specimen and was moved to this wire basket seven years ago. The plant sits in Warm Americas and is watered most days as baskets dry out quickly. It is interesting that for it to flourish in cultivation we groe this plant much wetter than it grows in its natural habitat. A key reason for this is very extensive root system epiphytes can develop in habitat where roots can run for several metres from a specimen plant. In cultivation deteriorating compost tend to reduce the number of years roots survive for.
Many thanks to all those who made our July 1st Orchid Festival such a success:
Visiting societies, Devon and Somerset,Dorset and Wilts for fantastic plants and great displays.
Adult volunteers in the Kitchen, on the door and around the building for making the day possible.
Orchid Project students for their outstanding effort in the greenhouses and laboratories sharing their passion with the public.
Burnham Nurseries for bringing some great plants to people to buy.
and of course all the visitors who make the day worthwhile.
This is the clown orchid. A cool growing species from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize where it is found in deciduous forest from 1400 to 2700m where it experiences shady wet summers (leaves on the trees) and cool dry bright winters (leaves off the trees)
For us the species does best in Cool Asia where many of our Himalayan species come from a habitat with similar conditions. According to older orchid books this was once a common beginners orchid in collections when wild plants were unsustainably collected for horticulture. It is a surprise that seed raised plants are not more widely available – we will be pollinating this plant for seed later today.
If you look closely you will spot the little striped clown at the centre of the flower.