Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Acineta chrysantha

Acineta is a genus of orchids that is part of the Stanhopeinae, and is native from Mexico to South America.  They are large plants with big pseudobulbs that have 2-4 leaves per pseudobulb.  The inflorescences can be 11.8 to 27.5 inches (30 to 70 cm) long.  This orchid is native to moist cloud forests of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. It is found at elevations from 4,265 feet (1,300 m), and is a warm to cool growing orchid.  I grow this species outside with Stanhopea on the north facing side of my house in partial shade.

Acineta chrysantha inflorescence

The flowers of this species are waxy and up to 2.5 inches (6 cm) wide.  They open partially and are carried on long inflorescences to 27.5 inches (70 cm) long with up to 30 flowers.  The flowers have a base color of deep or golden yellow with reddish spots on the petals and sepals.  The labellum has large deep red spots and splotches.  The column, in contrast, is ivory white and minutely hairy at the base.  The fragrance of these orchids is rather complex, but ranges more toward a ginger or ginger beer fragrance.  I have heard of this species having a vanilla fragrance, but my variety has a more complex and intense scent.

Acineta chrysantha flower

This orchid has always bloomed for me in late summer and early fall.  The flowers last much longer than most Stanhopea, from two weeks, sometimes up to three weeks if the weather is cool.  The plant requires a cool and semi-dry rest period in early winter to induce blooms.  The first inflorescences grow out of the basket in July and take about 2-3 months to mature and open.

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