Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Porroglossum hirtzii

I am so far behind with posts that this is now finished blooming.  I had hoped to get a picture of the plant in bloom and missed that as well.  The species is from Ecuador as the name would suggest (Alexander Hirtz was a well known German orchid collector in Ecuador in the late 1900's).  The plant is 4 cm tall and the leaves are a dark green with a lightly pebbled surface.  The flowers spikes bear only one flower and are 10 cm long and tend to be pendant.  The flowers are 1.5 cm long and have the typical hinged lip of this genus, a lip that swings up when the flower is disturbed by a pollinating insect, trapping the insect against the column of the flower.

I found this a rather frustrating plant.  Most of the flower spikes aborted again this year even though the plant is well established, and the flowers that did open were very difficult to photograph.  As soon as the plant is moved the lip to swings up and takes forever to come down again and I wanted pictures of the flowers with the lip in both positions.  I grow the plant on a block of tree fern so that the spikes have space to grow downward and keep it in quite low light.  It is watered frequently and as with all my orchid receives just trace amounts of fertilizer (a pinch in two gallons of water every two out of three waterings).  The first three photos show the lip "down" and the last photo shows it "up."

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