Sunday, January 30, 2011

Masdevallia mendozae

Masdevallia mendozae belongs to the Saltatrices group in the genus Masdevallia.  The plants in this group generally have tubular flowers and are brightly colored.  This species is no exception.  It comes from Ecuador and is supposed to be very temperature tolerant, growing in warm as well as cool temperatures.

The slug-like bright orange flowers are 3.5 cm long and the plant itself is only about 10 cm tall.  The plant is a prolific bloomer when grown well and blooms in late winter with occasional flowers throughout the year.  I grow it in live sphagnum moss in a small net pot and keep it cool and moist.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Masdevallia strobelii

This species, common in cultivation, but nevertheless desirable, is also in the section Saltatrices, and like the other species in that group is beautifully colored and tubular in shape, though not to the extent of some of the other species in the group.

The plant is remarkable for its sweet scent, its clear glandular "hairs" which cover the inside of the flower, and its white and orange coloring.  It has been much used in hybridizing and imparts good color, sparkling texture, and its hairiness to its progeny.

The plant is about 8 cm tall and the flowers the same size when measured from the tips of the tails, though these usually fold back.  The plant blooms for me in late winter with occasional flowers all through the year and is grown in live sphagnum in a net pot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scaphosepalum gibberosum

This plant has some of the oddest flowers of any orchid.  Even the names are an attempt to describe some of the peculiarities of this plant and its relatives.  Scaphosepalum means "fused sepals" and gibberosum refers to the hump-like swellings on the flower stem.

The plant is 20 cm tall, but the flower spikes continue to grow, producing a succession of flowers at widely-spaced intervals and growing as long as 50 cm.  The flowers are about 5 cm and can only be described with a picture they are so odd.

The plant is from Colombia and from high altitudes in the Andes, requiring cool temperatures and high humidity.  My plant grows in a net pot in live sphagnum moss and is in bloom nearly the year around.  It requires some space, however, because of the long flower spikes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Trisetella gemmata

The Trisetellas are all related to Masdevallia and were at one time classified with them.  Trisetella gemmata is fairly typical of most of the genus, both in the color and size of the flowers and in plant size.  The plant is a cluster of narrow channeled leaves about 4 cm tall, and the rather strange flowers are about 3 cm in size. It produces its flowers during the winter and each flower spike produces a succession of 4-6 flowers.

The plant is from Colombia and from high altitudes and does best in cool to cold temperatures with high humidity.  I grow it mounted on a piece of bark and water it nearly every day.    Its name, gemmata, refers to the sparkling texture of the flowers which is very hard to capture in a photograph, and Trisetella, the genus name, refers to the three thread-like tails of the flower.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lepanthes telipogoniflora

Lepanthes telipogoniflora is one of the most beautiful and sought-after species in this genus of tropical jewels.  Its large flowers dwarf the tiny plants which produce them and the red-orange color of the flowers stands out in any collection.  The plant is from Colombia and is a relatively new discovery, having only been described for the first time in 1996.  Its name, telipogoniflora, refers to the perceived resemblance of the flowers to those of another orchid genus, Telipogon.

The leaves, which grow in a tight cluster are about 1 cm at their largest, the flowers about 3 cm in diameter.  The flowers are not especially long-lasting, but are produced in succession so that the plant is seldom without flowers.  It is difficult to catch the color of the flowers and their satiny texture, and the lip and petals are so tiny as to go almost unnoticed in the center of the flower, but are very intricate and beautiful when viewed closely.  The plant is supposed to be warm growing but does very well for me in cool conditions with high humidity.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Paphiopedilum venustum

I don't grow a lot of Paphiopedilums, but only for lack of space.  I find their variety and strange forms very attractive, and Paph. venustum represents all that I love about them.  It is a smallish plant with beautifully mottled leaves, as is evident in some of the photos, and has one of the most beautiful pouches in the genus, a lovely green with darker green veining.

The plant grows well for me on a bathroom windowsill where it receives diffused light from a southern exposure and it blooms faithfully every year.  The fan of leaves is about 30 cm across and the single-flowered spikes are a little less than 30 cm tall.  On my plant the petals are strongly reflexed, making the flowers look like they are flying.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mediocalcar versteegii 'Mountainside'

This very unusual species is from New Guinea.  Its rambling growths are about 9-10 cm tall and produce small but brightly colored flowers a little less than 1 cm in size.  It is part of genus of about 20 species native to New Guinea and growing at high altitudes in the cloud forests.  The name Mediocalcar refers to a spur on the tiny lip which is mostly hidden inside the flower, and versteegii is after the name of a Dutch explorer of the 1800's.