Today’s orchid is a really striking one and the largest flowered pleurothallis we grow. It is a small growing plant (the leaves and stems are currently 10cm long in total) that produces infrequent large solitary 5cm flowers. The name means half-red pleurothallis but our plant has hardly any red and its colouring is rather more reminiscent of a poached egg!
The plant is found in wet forest from 500-2100m and so it is at home in Cool Americas and it will be interesting to see how it develops into a specimen. A plant with many flowers our at once would be quite a sight. The plant seems to flourish in deep shade and in the dark the flower colour is ideal for attracting attention.
As I said earlier in the week we have lots of Odontoglossums coming into flower and this is possibly my favourite of the crop. This is a reliable late autumn flowering species, and as we pointed out last year, the branched starry flower spike would actually make a great Christmas tree!
Odontoglossum manuelaraisii is another of the species traditionally included in the genus Odontoglossum but now moved to Oncidium following genetic analysis. The species is endemic to Peru where it grows in cool forests at around 2600m. The species is fairly recently described and can also be found under the name Odontoglossum ariasii. The species is notable for its long upright flower spikes which produce branches towards the base and so deliver an impressive amount of flower. The flowers are really long lasting and will be with us well into the spring.
We look forward to growing this plant into a specimen and seeing what it can do when really grown well. It is at home in our Cool Americas section and kept moist all year.
A dramatic display for anyone visiting our Cool Americas section this week is the ‘gaping mouths’ of hundreds of Pleurothallis palliolata flowers looking at you from the benches.
This is one of our favourite species and another that arrived with us as an unexpected ‘weed’ on a different plant. We were given our first plant of Octomeria grandiflora (day 317) in 1999 and soon noticed some very small leaves near its base that were the ‘wrong’ shape. These developed into the characteristic elongated heart shaped leaves of Pleurothallis palliolata and eventually the large flowers settled the matter – we think the flowers look like lizards’ heads!
The species propagates freely by keikis on top of the older leaves and we now have a large number of small plants from the original as well as a second clone (shown here)
Pleurothallis palliolata is native to cool mountain forests in Costa Rica and Panama. We have seen closely related species growing in wet evergreen forest at 1400m on the Poas volcano in deep shade. We grow the species successfully both mounted and in pots and it has proved robust and straight forward to grow, so a good species to try if you are new to Pleurothallis.
We have been anticipating several Odontoglossum species in bud and the first to open is this gorgeous flower belonging to a plant we know as Odontoglossum hallii-elegans. This species is native to Ecuador and forms a large growing plant with long spikes of 8cm wide flowers. Odontoglossums have now been included in Oncidium but as a genus Odontoglossum is useful as the species that were included share cultural requirements – cool, damp shade similar to their cloud forest homes – that differs from the majority of Oncidium species that come from lower altitudes and dryer forests.
We find Odontoglossum species do particularly well hung in baskets and watered daily throughout the year. We grow the species in our Cool Americas section.
We have lots of orchid species with small flowers that nevertheless give a great display. Pholidota is a genus related to coelogyne and we have come across several Pholidota species in Loas, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Some species are small and attractive, others are large and straggly , some a re warm growing and some are cool growing.
Pholidota leveilleana is a warmer growing lithophyte native to Southern China and Vietnam where it grows on mossy rocks in deep shade from 800 to 1800m. We replicate conditions by growing plants in our Warm Asia section hanging under other plants. This species is unusual as its flowers are salmon pink rather than the usual cream and white flowers of the genus.