Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stanhopea panamensis

Stanhopea panamensis with five flowers on this inflorescence
This is a tropical growing species that thrives in warm and humid environments in tropical forests of Panama at 2,950 feet (900 m) in elevation.  This species grows in shade and dappled shade and appreciates being grown outdoors during the summer.  Unfortunately, this is one of the Stanhopeas that I have to take indoors during the winter months.  Some sources say it dislikes temperatures below 60F (14C) at night, others say temperatures near 50F (10C) are fine. Barney Greer's book mentions that a grower did well with this in Sydney, Australia growing outdoors, so there is hope that I could try this one outside when it matures a little more.
Stanhopea panamensis close up of flower
The flowers are large to 5-5.5 inches (12.7 - 14.0 cm) wide and are primarily white with dark purple spots on the petals and sepals. The hypochile is a bright yellow with the remainder of the prominent mesochile and epichile being white. There are small dark purple spots on the upper portion of the epichile and interior portion of the horns of this Stanhopea. This species was once combined into S. oculata, which it resembles. However, S. panamensis doesn’t have eye spots, has a more verticle hypochile, and a different fragrance. The flowers have a faint lily scent at first, almost like an Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) or Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba). Later as the flower matures it has a mixture of lily and clove fragrance, but faint. 

Stanhopea panamensis inflorescence 
in bud
The buds of this species have very prominent, dense, dark brown to black scales on the sepals, ovary, and inflorescence bracts. This species is a large plant with large leaves 13-24 inches (33-61 cm) long, and leaf blades 4.25-6.0 inches (10.8-15.2 cm) wide. I have this plant growing on the north side of the house under the eaves in spring/summer. I provide it with 50% shade cloth, and about 2 hours of full morning sun per day in the summer.

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