Monday, December 3, 2012

Stanhopea saccata

Stanhopea saccata with two flowers on a young plant

This Stanhopea is native from Mexico to Costa Rica and grows at elevations from 1,640 to 4,920 feet (500 to 1500 m).  At the upper range in elevation, these orchids can be associated with oak forest habitats.  This is an intermediate to cool grower and does well growing outdoors in coastal southern California.  This species enjoys some early morning direct sun and flowers for me in the fall.  This orchid’s flowers are described as having a cinnamon fragrance, though I have found this form to have a scent that is a combination of camphor with a bit of cinnamon.  The fragrance is light but noticeable when you are close by the flowers.  The inflorescences of this species generally grow at the surface of the growing medium, so they tend to run into the side of the basket.  Care should be taken to direct the inflorescences over the rim, so that they can mature unimpeded.
Stanhopea saccata showing the three lobed lip

The flowers of this species are up to 5.1 in. (13 cm) wide.  The sepals are permeated with a green color on the reverse side, so when the flowers are viewed from the front, they appear to glow and have a light yellow/green color.  The petals and sepals have a deep golden yellow color infused in the lower portions near the hypochile, and are covered with profuse small reddish brown spots.  The hypochile has an enlarged sack-like form that is similar to other closely related Stanhopea (S. tigrina). The horns are larger and wider than other related species (S. pseudoradiosa, and S. radiosa).  The epichile is deeply folded in the center and it has three distinct lobes similar to other species in the Saccata group.  The center lobe is smaller than the two outer lobes.

Stanhopea saccata close-up showing the golden colored,
 sack-like hypochile and wide horns

The leaves of this species are 17-19 in. (43.2-48.3 cm) long, 2.5-2.8 in. (6.4-7.1 cm) wide, and are lanceolate in shape.  The pseudobulbs of this form are 2.0 in. (5.0 cm) tall and 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) wide, and are laterally compressed.

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