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Catasetum tenebrosum


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

Source:  http://www.orchidspecies.com/cattenebrosa.htm





Pseudobulbous plants with large heavy bulbs that go dormant in the cooler months. Catasetum tenebrosum has flowers to 4cm across, sepals, petals dark rich redbrown, maroon, lip yellow. A pot or basket is required, plants should not be overpotted. Use a rich media that will stay damp but not wet. After the dry dormant period, plants can be repotted , at which time the bulbs can be separated to initiate new plants. Catasetums are deciduous and become dormant in winter, to the extent that plants can be removed from the orchid house and kept dry until spring. Warm to intermediate growers, but because they are dormant in winter, they can be grown in cold climates. A species from Peru.   ( Source:  http://www.speciesorchids.com/CATASETUMTENEBROSUM.html  )



Catasetum tenebrosum also called as The Dark-Brown Catasetum, Catasetum tenebrosum f. smaragdinum, is a species of the genus Catasetum. This species was described by Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Kraenzlin in 1910. 

Catasetum tenebrosum is native to Ecuador and Peru. These orchids grow on trees on the eastern slopes of the Andes in southeastern Ecuador and eastern Peru. In Ecuador, they are found in very humid mountain forests in the Province of Zamora-Chinchipe, near Zamora at an altitude of 900 m. In Peru they were met at the Jun'n Department in the Chanchamayo Valley at an altitude of 1200-1500 m.


It is a medium sized, warm to cool growing epiphytic or lithophytic species, which reaching 35 cm in height, with spindle-shaped, several noded, up to 12 cm long pseudobulbs enveloped basally by several, distichous, foliaceous sheaths carrying 6 to 8, thin, plicate, lanceolate, up to 23 cm long and 5.5 cm wide leaves.
The Dark-Brown Catasetum blooms from the spring till fall from the basal nodes, on a suberect, 20 cm long, 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. The female flowers, typical of the genus, are greenish-red. The male flowers have petals of both chocolate-colored whorls to a dark brownish-purple, and the lip has a honey color with greenish tints. The dorsal petal and inner whorl petals are straightened, although the inner whorl flakes are slightly spread out and cover the spine flap, which is visible only from the front at the front. The lateral outer petals are horizontally or diagonally apart, except for one third of the apical part and are hidden behind a large lip.


Care and Culture:


Cultural information should only be used as a guide, and should be to be adapted to suit you. Your physical location; where you grow your plants, how much time you have to devote to their care, and many other factors, will need to be taken into account. Only then can you decide on the cultural methods that best suit you and your plants.
Catasetum tenebrosum needs a light level of 20000-30000 lux. The plants require filtered or scattered light, protection from the direct midday sun and constant, strong air movement.



It is a thermophilic plant. Throughout the year, the average day temperature is 26-28 ° C, the night 14-16 ° C, giving a daily difference of 11-13 ° C.



For most of the year, The Dark-Brown Catasetum needs the humidity of 80%, but in the period of 2-3 months in late winter and at the beginning of spring it drops to almost 75%.


Substrate, growing media:

Catasetum tenebrosum can be mounted on tree fern washers if it is possible to provide high humidity and watering at least once a day during the summer. So the suspended plants may require several waterings in the period of dry, hot, summer weather.

They can also be grown in pots or baskets with excellent drainage, using a loose, fast-drying substrate. The substrate must be perfectly aerated and should contain materials such as chopped sphagnum and perlite, which retain some of the moisture. Often adding charcoal, which also relaxes the substrate and prevents excessive acidification. In addition to the usual bark-based substrates, you can grow the plants in the tightly packed roots of Osmund ferns, ferns of tree fern, sphagnum moss, in pieces of volcanic rock, pieces of cork, or even in a mixture made of equal parts of composted and fresh manure and charcoal. In fact, you can apply any substrate if you adjust the watering regime. However, it is easier to drive plants when the same substrate is used for the whole collection.


Sphagnum moss breaks down quickly and plants grown in it must be repotted every year. Catasetum tenebrosum do not tolerate soil around the roots, and repotting each year regardless of the substrate used is recommended. Repotting is best done when a new growth occurs at the base of the pseudobulb. You should leave only the 1-2 youngest pseudobulbs, and remove the remaining ones. Some growers typically divide their plants into individual pseudobulbs. Old roots can be cut when transplanting, because they are practically dead. You can leave a few that will facilitate fixing the plant until new roots grow. After repotting, the plants are not watered at all until the roots of the new growth sink into the medium and the new growth reaches 10-12 cm in height.


In the natural habitat, rainfall is very abundant throughout the year. The cultivated plants should be abundantly watered during active growth, but excellent drainage is necessary, and the ground around the roots can never be soggy or spread.



It is recommended to use 1/4-1/2 of the recommended dose of orchid fertilizer weekly during the growing season. It is better to use nitrogen-enriched fertilizer from spring to mid-summer, and then fertilizer enriched with phosphorus until autumn.

Rest period:

Catasetum tenebrosum need less water from autumn, when they lose their leaves, and after they are lost, enough water is needed to prevent excessive pseudobulbs from wrinkling. It is necessary to eliminate fertilization until the spring begins with more watering. Normal watering and fertilization can be started when new growths appear in spring and their roots are 2-4 cm long. In the tunnel top of new growths, water can accumulate causing crown rot and consequently a loss of growth. To reduce the risk of putrefaction, it is recommend placing a small amount of fungicide in a leaf tunnel.


Catasetum tenebrosum: this unusual species is from Peru. They are deciduous orchids meanning they will drop their leaves after flowering becoming dormant. This is normal and required by the orchid. Catasetum tenebrosum requires a strict growing and resting period. The genus Catasetum are known for their characteristic trait of depositing pollen onto a pollinator (i.e. bee) which then transports the pollinia onto other Catasetum flowers for pollination, or “shoots” pollen to pollinate, dependent upon the species. Catasetum tenebrosum tolerates a variety of planting mediums or may be mounted.


LIGHT: Strong light is necessary, especially when growing and forming flower spikes (spring through autumn). Light is the key to producing flowers. They can handle ¼ to ¾ full sun.


TEMPERATURE: Catasetum tenebrosum can tolerate hot days and like cooler weather while dormant. They easily tolerate days of 85F to 100F .These orchids like hot, tropical environments and do well in summer rainy months. After pseudobulbs mature, they tolerate lower day temperatures at 70-85F and do well at 55-60F at night. This is quite a wide temperature fluctuation. Maintain humidity when in active growth and leaves are on the plant.


WATER: The watering cycle requires a severe change from its growing season to its dormancy period. Water is critical for producing large pseudobulbs and strong flowerings. Water heavily as leaves are forming especially during the spring and summer and when flower spikes are forming. The reason for this is that the plant must store water in its pseudobulbs to sustain the plant through the growing period as well as through dormancy. During hot summers, mist leaves to prevent shriveling during its period of growth. When leaves start to yellow and the plant stops flowering, gradually reduce watering. When the leaves fall off, drastically reduce watering and KEEP ON THE DRY SIDE. The plant is now entering its dormant season and must be kept dry. Water just enough to keep the pseudobulbs from withering. Do not overwater during this dormant period. It is difficult to refrain from watering Catasetum tenebrosum, but this is absolutely critical. REMEMBER, THE ORCHID REQUIRES A STRICT, DRY RESTING PERIOD. So, my best advice is don’t water! The pseudobulbs have deep folds and will appear dry and gray after dropping its leaves.


FERTILIZER: Fertilizer is important to produce strong pseudobulbs. It is important to provide fertilizer on a regular basis. During active growth in the summer, fertilize weekly. Give a bloom booster on occasion during the summer. Taper off the fertilizer as you begin to reduce its watering schedules also. Watch for spider mites when in leaf. Control by keeping humidity high and spray as necessary with miticide products.


FLOWERS: Flowers are velvety black petals with greenish to creamy brown lip. These are distinctive flowers! Flowers are heavy, waxy and quite unique. It flowers in the Peruvian spring which is our autumn. Catasetum tenebrosum flowers prior to entering its dormant period.

CJ's & MJ's Orchids   https://www.facebook.com/CJs.Orchids/posts/catasetum-tenebrosum-this-unusual-species-is-from-peru-these-are-deciduous-orchi/901601223245570/



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