Friday, August 23, 2013

Stanhopea ruckeri

This orchid is native to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.  It grows in intermediate to warm mountain forests 2,625– 4,593 feet (800-1400 m) in elevation.  This is also one of the easiest species of Stanhopea to grow outdoors here in southern California, and can take early morning sun and dappled shade the rest of the day.  The form pictured here is one of the spotted forms with pale red eye spots on the hypochile and small red spots on the petals and sepals.  There are also small red spots on the epichile and column.  There are some forms of this species that are alba forms and lack red color on the flower.  The fragrance of this Stanhopea is a light cinnamon scent and is consistent with the fragrance study done that includes trans-cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl-alcohol, and cinnamyl-acetate.  These provide a fragrance that is similar to a candy known as “Hot Tamales”, and the flowers have a similar fragrance to the candy.  There are other forms that have different compounds as the main fragrance components such as phenethyl alcohol which provides a sweet to floral, rose fragrance, or even one like freshly baked bread.  It is interesting to note that the form that I have exhibits a change in the fragrance as the flower ages and smells more like cinnamon French toast, so some phenethyl alcohol must be produced at that time as well.

Stanhopea ruckeri with five inflorescences

The flowers are 4.5 to 5.5 inches (11.4 to 14.0 cm) wide with several flowers (5-10) on an inflorescence.   The inflorescences can be quite long, 9 to 15 inches (22.9 to 38.1 cm) in length.  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 deep green, and are 7.9 to 24.0 inches (20 to 61 cm) long and 3.9 to 4.7 inches (10 to 12 cm) wide.  The pseudobulbs are 1.6-2.2 inches (4.0 to 5.6 cm) long and deeply furrowed.  This Stanhopea is also one of the more easily grown species and is readily available in the orchid nursery trade.  Stanhopea  ruckeri  grows rapidly, and is a reliable bloomer every year.  It produces several inflorescences at a time and quickly grows into a specimen plant.  These attributes make this Stanhopea a good candidate to grow for a beginner, and several Stanhopea growers rate this species as the one that we should all have.

Stanhopea ruckeri flower

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