In the orchid world, "species" are those orchids that occur naturally in nature. Depending who you ask, the blooms of a species is better, the same or not as dramatic as the bloom of a hybdrid orchid. Most species orchids are less forgiving in a growing area they are not accustomed to and the result will be disappointing (specially for the orchid). Understanding the cultivation needs of species orchids will serve as a guide for the care of a hybrid that includes particular species in its background.
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Common Name: The Callused Catasetum
Flower Size: 2" [5 cm]
A medium sized, hot growing Colombian and Venezuelan epiphytic species occurring at elevations around 346 meters on bushes in dry open forests with fusiform pseudobulbs enveloped basally by leaf sheaths and carrying 5, linear-lanceolate, medium green, plicate leaves and blooms in the fall and winter on a basal, arching, 12" [30 cm] long, several [10 to 15] flowered, racemose inflorescence with fragrant, inverted flowers arising on a mature pseudobulb.
This species requires a dry, fertilizerless rest in the winter.
Common Name The Small-Toothed Catasetum
Flower Size 1 3/5" [4 cm]
Found in Rondonia state of Brazil in Amazonian rain forest at elevations of 100 to 300 meters as a medium sized, hot growing epiphyte with clustered fusiform pseudobulbs that are enveloped basally by several deciduous leaf sheaths and carries 5 to 10, plicate, arched, oblanceolate leaves that blooms in the late spring and early summer on a basal, erect to suberect, several flowered, racemose inflorescence arising basally on a new pseudobulb lead.
This species needs a winter rest and enjoys moderate shade, even watering and fertilizing through its growth period
This species is similar to C cirrhaeoides and C pulchrum but differs in having the denticulate margins and the shallow concavity in the lip while the others have entire margins and a lip with a deep saccate hollow.
Common Name The Expansive Catasetum
Flower Size 3" [7.5 cm]
A large sized, showy, hot to cool growing epiphytic Catasetum from northeastern Ecuador in dry forest at elevations of 20 to 1500 meters with spindle shaped pseudubulbs carrying several deciduous, plicate, lanceolate leaves that can bloom from May until December on a basal, 12" [30 cm] long, several  flowered arching raceme arising on a newly forming pseudobulb carying either male or female flowers.
The flowers can be found in many colors including yellow, green, white and sometimes with maroon spots.
Synonyms Catasetum expansum var sodiroi [Schlechter] Mansf.; Catachaetum recurvatum Link 1844; Catasetum cliftonii R.H. Torr. 1911; Catasetum platyglossum Schltr. 1916; Catasetum recurvatum Link 1844; Catasetum sodiroi Schltr. 1921
Photos by © Danny Lentz plant grown by the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Common Name The Fringed Catasetum
Flower Size 1 1/2" [3.75 cm]
Found in Guyana?, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina in dry lowland regions on trunks of palm trees at altitudes of 400 to 500 meters as a large sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with conical-fusiform, several-noded pseudobulbs subtended by several leaf bearing sheaths carrying several, oblong-ligulate, submembraneous, acute leaves that blooms in the late spring and summer on a basal, pendant, 1 1/2' [45 cm] long, racemose inflorescence arising on a mature pseudobulb and has many [7 to 15] loosely arranged, fleshy, very spicily fragrant flowers.
Common Name Kleber's Catasetum [Kleber de Lacerda Jr., Brazilian discoverer of species current]
Flower Size 1 5/8" [4 cm]
This is a medium sized, warm growing Brazilian epiphytic species from Amazonas state and grows on trees in flooded forests along the Rio Preto do Igapo-Acu with fusiform pseudobulbs carrying oblanceolate, plicate leaves that blooms in the fall on a basal, suberect, racemose, 10" [26 cm] long, several [11 to 14] flowered inflorescence arising on a newly matured pseudobulb carrying longer lasting flowers than normal for this genus.
Give a very short rest period with humid conditions year round with light to moderate shade.
Common Name The Bright Catasetum
Found in Colombia as a medium sized, hot growing epiphyte that blooms in the winter
Synonyms Catasetum lucis f. tigrinum P.Ortiz & G.Arango 1994
Catasetum lucis P.Ortiz & G.Arango
This species native range is Colombia
Common Name The Felt-Capped Catasetum
Flower Size more than 4" [to more than 10 cm]
This large sized, hot growing epiphytic species comes from Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in lowland forest at elevations around 100 to 200 meters with tropical conditions with a long wet period and a short dry season with clustered, fusiform-ovoid, several noded pseudobulbs that are enveloped by several leaf bearing sheaths carrying distichous, lanceolate, suberect, plicate leaves and blooms in the spring through fall on a basal, erect to pendant, 12" [30 cm] long, several to many [4 to 10] flowered, racemose inflorescence carrying fragrant flowers that open very flat and arise on a mature pseudobulb.
Venezuela made this their national flower until 1921 when it was changed to Cattlaya mossiae var wagnerii.
Common Name The Sack-Shaped Catasetum
Flower Size 4" [9 to 10 cm]
Found as a large sized, variable, caespitose, hot to cool growing epiphyte in Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil in tropical montane forests on many different types of trees at altitudes of 200 to 1700 meters, with fusiform, elongate pseudobulbs with 4 to 7 elliptic-lanceolate, petiolate, acute leaves that blooms from the early winter through spring on an erect or pendant, 8" to 16" [25 to 68 cm] long, loose to many [3 to 21] flowered, bracteate, racemose inflorescence carrying fragrant flowers arising on a nearly mature pseudobulb
Like most Catasetum, needs a definite rest period after the blooming season when it will drop its leaves. The flowers are different in that they can eject their pollina up to 8 ft from the plant. This species enjoys nearly full sunlight, warmth, plenty of water and fertilizer and only needs a rest if it has become obviously dormant.
See also Catasetum incurvum which is often cited as a synonym of C saccatum but has sufficient differences to be kept a species in it's own right. Tthey differ in the size of the flowers, the lip and the densly flowered inflorescence.
Common Name The Dark-Brown Catasetum
Flower Size 1 1/4" [3 cm]
A medium sized, warm to cool growing epiphytic or lithophytic species from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru found at elevations of 500 to 1800 meters in riverine forests on hilly terrain in full sun or on rocks and boulders below them with spindle-shaped, several noded pseudobulbs enveloped basally by several, distichous, foliaceous sheaths carrying 6 to 8, thin, plicate, lanceolate leaves that blooms from the spring till fall from the basal nodes, on a suberect, 8" [20 cm] long, several to many [4 to 12] flowered, racemose inflorescence that arises from a newly forming pseudobulb carrying 3 to 8 female flowers or 11 to 17 male flowers.
This species needs to be in light to moderate shade to insure male flowers and kept drier but does not require a prolonged rest.
Synonyms Catasetum tenebrosum f. smaragdinum D.E.Benn., Christenson & Collantes 1999
This is one of my favorite species, and I'm always happy when these plants flower 3-4 times a season, with inflorescences up to 3' long holding 25 or more well-arranged flowers!!! A bit of history: a while back I made a sibling cross of saccatum ('SVO' x 'SVO II'), and the best plant from that cross was named 'Dark Wonder' for its very dark rich burgundy petals and sepals. This pairing might very well produce the best group of saccatum seen; it sure has the genetic potential!
Photo Left: Catasetum saccatum 'Dark Wonder'
Photo Right: Catasetum saccatum 'Brooklyn Botanic Garden' FCC/AOS
Description and photos courtesy of Fred Clarke, Sunset Valley Orchids
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