Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stanhopea wardii

Stanhopea wardii var. citrina inflorescence with five flowers
This species is native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela.  It grows in warm to cool cloud forests from 2600 – 5300 feet (800-1600 meters) in elevation.  It is one of the easier species of Stanhopea to grow outside here in southern California, and can take early morning sun and dappled shade the rest of the day.  This form is S. wardii var. citrina and has green/yellow flowers when they first open, almost chartreus in color.  The flowers later fade to a more burnt yellow or golden yellow color.  The standard form is a more subdued yellow color.  Both forms have a black eye spot on the upper hypochile that is a deep golden yellow color.  The fragrance of this Stanhopea is rather intense lemon/citrus at first.  After the flowers have been open for a few hours the fragrance lessens to a tart lime fragrance similar to crushed lime leaves.  It is a very pleasant and clean fragrance.  This seems to be consistent with the fragrance study done that includes limonene in some clones at 1.7%.; however, I have not detected the 1.8 cineole of 1-33% that would give it a Eucalyptus or camphor-like fragrance in this form.
Stanhopea wardii var. citrina close up
The flower is 2.8 to 3.1 inches (7.0 to 8 cm) wide but there are usually several flowers (7-10) on a given inflorescence.   The inflorescences can be quite long, up to 9 inches (22.9 cm) in length in many S. wardii forms.  Because the inflorescences are so long, this species can make a very nice specimen placed in a large basket that enables the inflorescences to grow out and down.  The leaves of this orchid are a thick and leathery, green with a slight blue-gray tint to them, and are 9 to 16 inches  (22.9 to 40.6 cm) long and 2.8 to 3.8 inches (7.1 to 9.6 cm)  wide.  This orchid is one of the more easily grown species of Stanhopea and are often readily available in the orchid nursery trade.  For me, S. wardii has been a reliable bloomer every year and easily produces several inflorescences.  These attributes make this Stanhopea a good candidate to grow for a beginning grower.

Stanhopea wardii var.
citrina bud

The buds that are close to opening have a fantastic flourescent chartreus color, and the reddish brown spotts on the sepals can be seen before the flower opens!

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