Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gongora galeata

Gongora galeata with several inflorescences
Gongora (Acropera) galeata
This is a small Mexican species that was originally the type for the genus Gongora, unless you agree that it should be in its own genus of Acropera. This plant is easy to maintain in a 5” basket and the thin strap shaped leaves are small enough to be a miniature plant in the collection. The leaves are 6.0 - 9.0 inches (15 - 22.5 cm) long and 1.0 - 1.5 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm) wide. This species is found in cloud forests from 1,970 - 5,900 feet (600 to 1800 meters) in elevation and prefers warm conditions with constant moisture and good air movement.  It does perform well in southern California growing outdoors given extra moisture is provided to prevent desiccation because of the small size of the plant. This orchid also prefers a location that always has air movement, and part shade.  Unfortunately, this plant’s leaves are easily affected by a fungus that causes leaf spot when there is not enough air movement. Leaf tip burn can be a problem in areas where water is high in salts and dissolved solids. 

Gongora galeata close up of flowers
The flowers are often seen as a form with a yellow or golden labellum (lip) with red spots at the base, and reddish brown to flesh pink sepals and petals. There is also a form that has bright yellow/green sepals and petals which provides a nice contrast with the labellum. The fragrance of this orchid has often been described as similar to an orange. I have only detected this fruit-like fragrance as subtle in the forms that I grow, and instead would describe it as a nice clean fragrance similar to freshly laundered and starched shirts!

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