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Coryanthes speciosa (Hook.) Hook.

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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). 

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

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



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. [1965] 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. 


Copyright 1997, Charles O. Baker and Margaret L. Baker
Sheet version 546705

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