Myrmecophila tibicins – 365 days of orchids – day 858

Two of our clones of Myrmecophila tibicinis are on their way to the Devon Orchid Show this morning and I am sure that they will cause quite a stir. The species develops into a really big orchid and the flower spikes are very long . One of our clones is more compact with 1.5m spikes of large flowers with curled petals and sepals while the other clone has 2 to 3m spikes with fewer heavier flowers. They are both gorgeous.

We have seen this species growing abundantly in lowland forest in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. In Belize it is known as the horn orchid because of the shape of the large pseudobulbs.

 The plant shown here is growing on the edge of the Belize River near Belize City. In the wild the species makes large specimens exposed to bright sun in semi-deciduous forest where they share upper branches with epiphytic cacti.

The name ‘myrmecophila’ refers to the close relationship the species has with large ants that make their homes in the older pseudobulbs and defend the plant when it comes under threat.

The Maya Biosphere shared by Guatemala, Belize and Mexico this lowland dryish forest was once the centre of the Mayan Civilization. The photograph here is taken from the top of a pyramid in Yaxha.

In Yaxha we worked with the Private National Reserves of Guatemala to produce a field guide to the orchids of a community reserve and gathered a fallen Myrmecophyla tibicinis to relocate in a tree and rather painfully forgot about the ant thing – ouch!

We grow the species in baskets and mounted in Warm Americas where they enjoy good light and plenty of water and feed when in growth.


Stelis muscifera – 365 days of orchids – day 857

We have some big orchids to feature on our display at the Devon Orchid Society show tomorrow but I am sure there will be a lot of interest in our miniatures like this tiny stelis species.

This tiny stelis species is native to Ecuador and Venezuela where is grows as an epiphyte in moss and produces an abundance of short spikes and a mass of flowers.

We grow the species in baskets and in pots and it seems to do especially well in small baskets where it enjoys daily watering but plenty of fresh air. The species enjoys shade and can easily be burnt by too much sun from April onwards.


Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis – 365 days of orchids – day 856

This is the first time our plant of this remarkable species has flowered and so the first time we have been able to include it on 365 days.

Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis is native to lowland forests in New Guinea where it grows as an epiphyte in deep shade. It has several remarkable characteristics including the enormous leaves. Our plant’s longest leaf measures 85cm long and at the base of each leaf is a stout compressed pseudobulb. The flowers are even stranger than the leaves and mimic meat to attract female carrion flies looking for a good spot to lay their eggs.It has been suggested that the yellow hairs on the red flowers mimic maggots crawling out of meat! – nice concept.

The flowers have a reputation as the smelliest of any orchid species and they do really stink. The flowers have a really foul smell of dead things but you have to get fairly close for it to become to much to bare. Perhaps we need to wait until the plant is a little larger and produces a number of spikes at the same time to really fill the greenhouse with the smell.

The flowers large red flowers do not open very far, presumably to make the pollinating flies force their way inside.

We grow the species in a basket hanging in Warm Asia (min 17C) and we water throughout the year. The plant has some shade all year which it seems to appreciate. We are hoping to bring the plant to the Devon Show on Saturday so why not come along and smell it for yourself – you have been warned!


Dendrobium aduncum- 365 days of orchids – day 855

These delicate looking but long lasting flowers belong to Dendrobium aduncum and are produced over several months. The species comes from the Himalayas and South East Asia where it is found in forests from 300m to 1300m which indicates a tolerance of a range of temperatures, but we grow in in our Warm Asia section.

The species produces generous sprays of flowers along old leafless pseudobulbs.


Sobralia macrantha – 365 days of orchids – day 854

Yesterday I talked about spring flowering orchids but today’s species is summer flowerer. Sobralia macrantha usually unfurls its first gigantic flowers in May (so is a week early this year) and will flowers on and off until the end of July.

Sobralia macrantha is found from Mexico to Costa Rica where it grows as a terrestrial in leaf litter, and its massive flowers are matched by the plant with thin canes that grow to a height of around 1.5m with alternate dark green tough leaves. The terminal flowers open successively over a period of several weeks. The flowers are fragrant but only last two to three days.

The lip of flowers have a charming creased look from being all folded up in the bud but when fully open the flowers a about 20cm across and 25cm from top to bottom.

We grow our plants in pots of bark and moss to replicate the natural habitat in Central America and keep plants watered all year in our Warm Americas section where plants get a minimum if 15C and bright light.

Issy looks after this genus and calls Sobralia Macrantha, Samantha (obviously). Two years ago Issy pollinated Samantha and sowed the seed in our propagation lab where we now have several hundred of these marvellous orchids nearly ready to come out of flask.

 Hannah and Issy with Samantha the Sobrailia macrantha and her first flowers of the summer in May 2018.