Cattleya trianae is the national flower of Colombia and is among the largest and most beautiful of the cattleya orchid species. There are many different colors ranging from white to pink with variations in lip color to boot. It generally flowers in the late winter/early spring. This picture was taken in Cali, Colombia in February. The orchid was growing and blooming high up in a tree. You can find out more about this history of this orchid at Chadwick and Sons Orchids.
A few other orchids were also in bloom, but these were cultivated plants, though still native to the region. Below are two different types of Sobralia orchids. These plants that looks like grassy bamboo plants can reach from 12″ or 12 feet in height depending on the variety. The short-lived flowers, that may open at dawn ans spent by nightfall bloom in abundance. They are terrestrial, growing in the ground unlike the epiphytic Cattleya trianae.
Lastly we have Phragmipedium longifolium that was growing in a basket on somebody’s balcony. These are related to the Asiatic slipper orchids. However, these plants enjoy slightly cooler conditions and like lot of fresh cold water at the roots. They bloom over many months on the same stem.
Heliconias are striking tropical plants with with thick flower bracts, that sometimes seem like they’ve been fashioned from plastic or rubber. The flowers emerge from the colorful bracts, but its the bracts themselves that command the most attention. You can see the yellow flower in the photo. On a recent trip to Colombia I came across this hairy heliconia, thick and dangling. Almost furry to the touch , it felt like a cross between a monkey’s tail, snake, and a child’s plush toy. You can see a much more impressive hairy heliconia photo here.
You can see a much more impressive hairy heliconia photo here. But, for those of you who prefer less hirsute heliconias, here are pictures of some other beauties that I spotted. Don’t even think about growing these as houseplants. Some of these plants are 10-15 feet tall! The flowering bracts can be several feet long too, often dangling on rope-like stem over the steep hillsides like chandeliers.No doubt the colorful bracts can be easily spotted by hummingbirds that tend to pollinate these beautiful flowers.
The Jardin Botanico is Bogota, Colombia, is an oasis in this city of 7 million. It has a tropical house, including one devoted to orchids which will be featured in a future post. Bogota is more than 7,000 feet above so it has a distinct flora of cooler growing plants. Since I just got back from Colombia, I thought I would throw up a few pictures to brighten up the late winter days!