The Amazing Monkey Orchid
Last Updated ( Monday, 04 February 2013 )
Nature doesn’t need an audience. These wonderful orchids come from the
south-eastern Ecuadorian and Peruvian cloud forests from elevations of 1000 to
2000 meters and as such not many people throughout history got to see them.
However, thanks to intrepid collectors we do get to see this wonderful Monkey
Orchid. Someone didn’t need much imagination to name it though, let’s face it.
Image Credit Columbus GV Team
Its scientific name is Dracula simia, the last part nodding towards the fact
that this remarkable orchid bears more than a passing resemblance to a monkey’s
face – although we won’t go as far as to be species specific on this one. The
Dracula (genus) part of its name refers to the strange characteristic of the two
long spurs of the sepals, reminiscent of the fangs of a certain Transylvanian
count of film and fiction fame.
Image Credit Flickr User Quimbaya
Image Credit Imgur
The orchid was only named in 1978 by the botanist Luer but is in a family
containing over 120 species mostly found in Ecuador. Up in the cloud mountains
the monkey orchid can flower at any time – it is not season specific. It scent
resembles that of a ripe orange.
Image Credit Flickr User Nolehace
Image Credit Flickr User Eric Hunt
The examples seen here are all cultivated – though it remains very rare in
‘captivity’. For that reason don’t make a dash down to your local
horticulturalist. Yet for those lucky enough to have one, if kept quite cool and
in partial shade and it can thrive and flower. Like all orchids, however, it
needs a lot of care and patience – so you may want to consider a cactus instead!
Image Credit Flickr User Jose X
If you don't quite see why this orchid gets its name, then do one thing. Move
back from your screen a few feet and take another look. Close up the similarity
is good, from a distance it is astounding.