This strange – looking, but also stunning plant is a miniature orchid, Sophronitis Cernua. I bought it a year ago at an orchid show, and it just started blooming this week. The leaves are unlike anything I have ever seen, more like succulent leaves, I think. Here’s how one person described them:
“apical, thickly coriaceosu, broadly ovate or elliptic-ovate, obtuse or minutely apiculate leaf that blooms on a terminal, erect, 1″ to 2″ [2 to 5 cm] long, few [4 to 10] flowered inflorescence with nodding flowers occuring in the spring.”
I was beside myself with excitement a month ago, (late spring in the southern hemisphere, right?) when I noticed that one of those leaves did look a bit different from the others. I realized that it was a flower bud that would split wide open, kind of like a milk weed pod, to produce five bright red-orange flowers.
This orchid is native to Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, and grows as an epiphyte in the wild, usually close to the sea. Mine is not mounted, but potted in a coarse bark mixture (as it was when I bought it) and sits on my east-facing kitchen window ledge, overlooking a salt pond. Close enough, I guess.
So here’s where the luck comes in: I have registered this plant and six others in the Cape and Islands Orchid Show which takes place January 12 – 13. This is the biggest show in our region, and the best place to buy plants directly from the growers (thus saving considerable money) and growing supplies. The plants in the photo are my entries, all packed as carefully as possible for hopefully uneventful transport to the show.
I’ll be sure to tell you how my plants fared with the judges.