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ORCHID SPECIES CULTURE Charles and Margaret Baker Coryanthes speciosa (Hook.) Hook. AKA: Gongora speciosa Hook. Epidendrum galeatum Vell. Coryanthles maculata Hook. Coryanthes speciosa var. alba Lindl. Coryanthes maculata var. Parkeri Hook. Coryanthes speciosa var. vitellina Morren. Coryanthes eximia Gerard. Coryanthes Albertinae Karst Ausw. Coryanthes maculata var. Albertinae Lindl. Coryanthes Barkeri Beer. Coryanthes Parkeri Seem. Coryanthes picturata Rchb. f. Coryanthes splendens Barb. Rodr. Coryanthes maculata var. vitrina Rolfe. Coryanthes maculata var. Fournieri Andre. Coryanthes maculata var. speciosa Andre. Coryanthes speciosa var. eximia Cogn. Coryanthes maculata var. splendens Cogn. Coryanthes Hunteriana Schltr. Coryanthes Powellii Schltr. ORIGIN/HABITAT: Widespread from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico southward through Guatamala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad, Venezuela, British Guiana, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. These plants grow as epiphytes in low lying, hot, humid regions, usually below 3300 ft. (1000 m). Specific habitat information was not given, but Coryanthes species are normally found growing in very acid conditions on the nests of ants. CLIMATE: Station #78745, Bluefields, Nicaragua, Lat. 12.0N, Long. 83.7W, at 28 ft. (9 m). Temperatures are calculated for an elevation of 1500 ft. (460 m), resulting in probable extremes of 89F (32C) and 55F (13C). N/HEMISPHERE JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC F AVG MAX 80 80 82 83 83 82 80 82 84 83 81 80 F AVG MIN 64 64 66 67 68 68 68 68 67 66 65 64 DIURNAL RANGE 16 16 16 16 15 14 12 14 17 17 16 16 RAIN/INCHES 10.5 5.1 3.2 2.9 13.6 19.8 26.2 21.5 12.3 13.6 15.3 15.7 HUMIDITY/% 78 77 76 76 79 80 83 82 79 79 80 81 BLOOM SEASON * * ** * ** * * * * * DAYS CLR @ 6AM 2 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 DAYS CLR @ 12PM 3 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 RAIN/MM 267 130 81 74 345 503 665 546 312 345 389 399 C AVG MAX 26.7 26.7 27.8 28.3 28.3 27.9 26.7 27.8 28.9 28.3 27.2 26.7 C AVG MIN 17.8 17.9 19.0 19.5 20.1 20.1 20.1 20.1 19.5 19.0 18.4 17.9 DIURNAL RANGE 8.9 8.8 8.8 8.8 8.2 7.8 6.6 7.7 9.4 9.3 8.8 8.8 S/HEMISPHERE JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN Cultural Recommendations: The following recommendations are based on averages in the habitat. They may be used as a guide for newly acquired plants whose requirements are unknown, or for plants that are not growing or flowering as well as they should. Reports from growers are included when they indicate success with conditions in cultivation that are outside the range found in the habitat. LIGHT: 1800-2500 fc. TEMPERATURES: Conditions vary only slightly throughout the year. Days average 80-84F (27-29C), nights average 64-68F (18-20C), and the diurnal range is 12-17F (7-9C). HUMIDITY: Near 80% year-round. WATER: Rainfall is heavy most of the year with a 2-3 month somewhat drier period in late winter and early spring. Cultivated plants should be kept evenly moist while actively growing. . FERTILIZER: 1/4-1/2 recommended strength, applied weekly. A high-nitrogen fertilizer is beneficial from spring to midsummer, but a fertilizer high in phosphates should be used in late summer and autumn. REST PERIOD: Growing conditions should be maintained year-round. Water may be reduced somewhat in winter, especially for plants grown in the dark, short-day conditions common in temperate latitudes. However, they should not be allowed to dry out completely. Fertilizer should be reduced until water is increased in spring. GROWING MEDIA: As with Stanhopea and Gongora species, hanging baskets accommodates the pendent flower spike that emerges from the base of the plant. A very acid, water-retaining medium is recommended. In his 1978 Orchid Digest article, George Kennedy reported that Dr. Fowlie found that Coryanthes plants grew extremely well when potted in Palco wool (shredded redwood bark) and kept exceedingly wet. The ants' nests on which the plants grow in nature contains a large amount of formic acid and have a pH of about 3. Redwood bark, also with a pH of about 3, is the only commonly available potting medium with a pH low enough to meet this requirement. MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: The bloom season shown in the climate table is based on cultivation reports. Plant and Flower Information: PLANT SIZE AND TYPE: A relatively large sympodial epiphyte that grows in dense clumps. Plants are usually about 18 in. (45 cm) tall but may be as tall as 28 in. (70 cm). PSEUDOBULB: 3-6 in. (7-15 cm) tall. The narrowly oblong pseudobulbs are strongly ribbed. LEAVES: 2 grow from the top of each pseudobulb. They are narrowly elliptic, 14-22 in. (35-55 cm) long, including the slender grooved petiole, 0.75-2.4 in. (2-6 cm) wide, and taper to a sharply pointed top. They are rigidly leathery with 3-5 prominent veins. INFLORESCENCE: 12-24 in. (30-60 cm) long including the terminal raceme. The inflorescence is sharply pendulous and emerges through the root ball from the base of the most recent pseudobulb. FLOWERS: 2-4 per inflorescence. The fragrant flowers are about 5 in. (13 cm) across but do not last well. The flowers are variable in color but are most often yellowish brown with a strong overlay of maroon spotting. The sepals and petals are usually pale brown with coarse to fine maroon spotting. They are reflexed and spreading and are inserted on the base of the column. The very complex lip is yellowish and yellow-brown and is joined to the base of the column by a narrow slightly compressed claw that is about 0.5 in. (1.2 cm) long. The basal part (hypochile) is helmet-shaped or obliquely hemispherical and is about 1 in. (2.5 cm) wide and 0.75 in. (2 cm) deep. It is rose pink but on the outside and is marked with orange on the face nearest the column. The inside is bright orange with maroon spots. The rigid middle part of the lip (mesochile) rises from within the hypochile. It is about 1.4 in. (3.5 cm) long, is broadly semicylindrical with margins strongly inrolled to form a tube, and is orange with some fine red-maroon spotting where it grades into the epichile. The cup shaped upper part of the lip (epichile) is pendent from the mesochile. It is about 1.4 in. (3.5 cm) wide and 1.2 in. (3 cm) deep. It is deeply cleft in front with three projecting teeth at the base of the cleft. All three teeth are provided with a small tubercle at the base. The inside of the cupped epichile is waxy -white with large strongly marked dark maroon-red spots. These spots become small and crowded near the edge, however. The outside of the epichile is cream or very pale brown with a pale maroon-pink flush. Also, the heavy spots on the inside show through faintly. The fleshy column is 1.2-1.6 in. (3-4 cm) long, lateral wings near the tip and a pair of short recurved glandular horns at the base. It is pale greenish-white with dark maroon spots on the inner face. The color of the flowers vary widely within this species and is the primary difference between many of the plants that are now considered to be synonyms of C. speciosa. For example, the only difference in plants that were once known as C. picturata is the color of their flowers which are yellowish green flecked with bright purple HYBRIDIZING NOTES: N/A. REFERENCES: Ames, O. and D. S. Correll. (1952-1965) 1985. Orchids of Guatemala and Belize. Dover Publications, New York. Dunsterville, G., and L. Garay. 1965. Venezuelan orchids illustrated, vol. 3. Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames, Botanical Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Foldats, E. 1969-1970. Flora of Venezuela --Orchidaceae, vol. 15, parts 1-6. Instituto Botanico, Direcdeion de recursos Naturales Renovables. Ministerio De Agricultura Y Cria. Caracas. Hawkes, A.  1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and Faber, London. Kennedy, George C. 1978. Some members of the genus Coryanthes Hook. Orchid Digest 42(1):31. Pridgeon, A. ed. 1992. The illistrated encyclopedia of orchids. Timber Press, Portland, OR. PHOTOS/DRAWINGS: . Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. 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