365 days of orchids – day 495 – Pleurothallis costaricensis

I am surprised to find that this is the first time we have posted one of our favourite miniature pleurothallis species. As the name suggests this species is found in Costa Rica where it grows in wet forests from 600-1800m. It also grows in Panama.

We find the species quite slow growing and so it stays really small making it perfect for those who grow their orchids in terrariums or orchid cases. We find the species is very happy mounted or in a tiny pot (3cm here) and kept well watered all year.


365 days of orchids – day 494 – Vanda curvifolia

Our Vandas are doing really well in our Warm Asia section and we have one of our smaller Vanda species today. Vanda curvifolia is found from Assam to South East Asia and we have seen the species growing in Laos in hot lowland forest in semi deciduous trees where it experiences a hot wet summer, a slightly cooler dry winter and a hot dry spring before flowering in April. It grown on the trunks and branches of trees where there is no moss and exposed to bright light especially when the trees shed leaves in the dry season.

We grow the species in Warm Asia in baskets high in the roof where it receives high temperatures and good light.

Ascocentrum species are small growing plants that have recently been subsumed within the genus Vanda. This makes good sense on the basis of hybridisation as well as genetics, as Ascocentrum species have been used a lot in Vanda breeding to give smaller growing and brightly coloured hybrids.


365 days of orchids – day 493 – Trichopilia tortilis

This dramatic species native to Central America and Mexico grows in wet lowland forest up to 1500m ands so we grow the species warm wet and shaded in our Warm Asia section.

The flowers are large and scented but particularly interesting because of their corkscrew twisted petals and sepals which break the normal bilateral symmetry found in most orchid flowers. We are intrigued by the twisting and there is clearly a research project on the evolutionary advantages of this arrangement. This particular clone choses a clockwise twist and I wonder if this is always the case in the species. One would maybe expect opposite petals to twist in opposite direction (one clockwise and one anti-clockwise but this is not the case here.


365 days of orchids – day 492 – Gongora scaphephorus

This is possibly the most dramatic of our Gongora species – we call it Fish Face as the buds remind us of tropical fish. The long pendulous spikes of very fragrant flowers open suddenly and all together after sitting as buds for several weeks.

Gongora scaphephorus is native to wet forests in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia from 500 to 1200m and is pollinated by euglossine bees in common with other members of the genus.

As well as looking and smelling fantastic this species has longer lasting flowers than many Gongoras we will use this blog to let you know how long.


Early May in Asham Woods

A month ago Asham Wood on the Mendips was full of wild daffodils in flower but now the Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula) are at their best (above) along with Bluebells and Ransoms (below)

Orchis mascula is generally a woodland species (although last week we featured it in Dorset grassland) and really enjoys well maintained coppice like that in Asham Woods.

Two members of the Lily Family to hunt for in ancient woodland at this time of year are Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) and Solomons Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum).

This is definitely a good week to explore your local ancient woodland.