Light should be like that given for phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums —1,000 to 1,500 foot-candles. Masdevallias can be kept in light intensities up to 2,500 foot-candles if the growing area can be kept cool. Plants grow well under standard fluorescent fixtures and can be summered outside in shade. In the home, place in an east or shaded south window or under artificial lights.
Temperatures should be cool to intermediate. The plants will grow slowly and eventually expire if temperatures remain high for long periods. Cool evenings help reduce heat stress during the day. Nights of 55 to 60 F are ideal; day temperatures should be 65 to 75 F. Evaporative cooling pads or humidifiers are useful in maintaining these conditions. Avoid day temperatures higher than 80 F.
Water is critical for these plants because they have minimal water-storage tissue. Roots should be allowed to become almost dry before watering again; if drainage is adequate, constantly moist roots are fine. Good-quality water low in dissolved solids is imperative for success.
Humidity is an important factor in the successful culture of masdevallias. The ideal range is 60 to 80 percent. In the home, set the plants on trays of gravel partially filled with water. In the greenhouse or enclosed growing area, humidity can be increased by use of a humidifier, while evaporative coolers help raise humidity and lower temperatures. If plants are summered outdoors, automatic misters underthe benches are recommended as is more frequent soaking.
Fertilize regularly with a dilute solution while plants are actively growing. Applications of 30-10-10-type formulations twice a month are ideal for plants in a bark-based medium. A 20-20-20-type formulation should be used for plants in other media. If weather is overcast, applications once a month are sufficient.
Potting is best done in the winter or early spring, before the heat of summer arrives or as new roots are produced. Plants must be repotted frequently, every one to two years, before the potting mix decomposes. A fine-grade potting medium, such as fine fir bark or tree-fern fiber, is often used with plastic pots. Sphagnum moss is also used, especially for establishing plants. The plant should be positioned in the pot so that the newest growth is farthest from the edge of the container, allowing the maximum number of new growths without crowding the vessel. Plants growing in many directions may be positioned in the center of the pot. Spread the roots over a cone of potting medium and fill in around the roots with potting medium to the junction of the roots and the plant. Firm the medium around the roots. Keep humidity high and the potting medium slightly dry until new roots form.
Ruiz & Pav.
About one dozen, see text
|About 500 species|
Masdevallia, abbreviated Masd in horticultural trade, is a large genus of flowering plants of the Pleurothallidinae, a subtribe of the orchid family (Orchidaceae). There are over 500 species, grouped into several subgenera. The genus is named for Jose Masdeval, a physician and botanist in the court of Charles III of Spain.
Range and morphology
These plants are found from Mexico to southern Brazil, but mostly in the higher regions (2,500-4,000 m ASL) of the Andes of Ecuador and Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. They may be epiphytes, terrestrials or growing as lithophytes on damp rocks.
The plants are characterized by an abbreviated to elongate and creeping rhizome that gives rise to stems that lack pseudobulbs. The stem bears a single, fleshy, erect to pendent, ovate to lanceolate leaf. The flowers are triangular and occur singly or in racemose inflorescences. They are characterized by a showy calyx and reduced corolla. The sepals are fused at the base and frequently caudate. The petals flank the semiterete column and the tongue-shaped lip is flexibly hinged to a free column foot.
The species are sensitive to inappropriate cultural conditions and will show signs of stress by leaf spotting or dropping. They can generally be grown in pots with sphagnum or seedling grade wood chips although a few species produce descending inflorescences and are best accommodated in baskets.In both cases the rhizome should remain at the surface of the medium in order to prevent rot.
Most of these plants are from high altitude cloud forests and require very cool conditions and abundant moisture throughout the year. They cannot tolerate dryness, low humidity, or excessive temperatures and the plants are very easy to kill. They will simply drop all their leaves and suddenly collapse if allowed to dry completely or are exposed to high temperatures. Many members of this genus from very high altitude cloud forests defy cultivation. Most of the species from this genus are considered less difficult in cultivation than plants from the genus Dracula, and some of them are very easy to cultivate and have a 'weedy' habit such as Veitch's Masdevallia, but the majority of these species are usually very difficult to maintain in cultivation unless the plants can be kept cool and moist all the time.
Low humidity conditions or watering the plants with a water source which contains high levels of dissolved salts will result in the leaves yellowing and rapidly dying from the tips back to the rhizome. The plants should be provided with rain water or distilled water or a very pure water source. The medium should always remain moist as the plants do not have any significant storage structures like most orchids.
Masdevallia was found to be polyphyletic and the taxonomy of the group is unresolved but the currently accepted taxonomy proceeds as follows:
Subgenus Amanda (≡Spilotantha)
Section Amandae: 28+ species, e.g. M. amanda, M. bulbophyllopsis, M. melanopus, M. polysticta. Separated in Spilotantha.
Section Ophioglossae: 1-2 species – M. ophioglossa, M. ophioglossa ssp. grossa
Subgenus Cucullatia: (≡Megema)4 species – M. cerastes, M. corniculata, M. cucullata, M. macrura
Subgenus Fissia: (≡Fissia) 3 species – M. mutica, M. picturata, M. pleurothalloides
Section Amaluzae: (≡Luzama) 6 species, e.g. M. amaluzae, M. carmenensis, M. patula
Section Aphanes: (≡Pteroon) 3 species – M. aphanes, M. capillaris, M. scopaea
Section Coriaceae :
Subsection Coriaceae: (≡Byrsella) ~35 species, e.g. M. angulata, M. caesia, M. civilis, M. elephanticeps, M. foetens, M. fractiflexa
Subsection Durae: (≡Regalia) 4 species – M. ayabacana, M. dura, M. panguiensis, M. utriculata
Section Ligiae: Monotypic – M. ligiae
Subsection Caudatae: ~28 species, e.g. M. bottae, M. caudata, M. decumana, M. lychniphora, M. triangularis, M. xanthina
Subsection Coccineae: 12 species, e.g. M. amabilis, M. barlaeana, M. coccinea, M. ignea, M. veitchiana
Subsection Masdevallia: ~58 species, e.g. M. agaster, M. calocodon, M. mejiana, M. pumila, M. uniflora
Subsection Oscillantes: ~11 species, e.g. M. andreettana, M. wageneriana (including M. pteroglossa)
Subsection Saltatrices: 14 species, e.g. M. angulifera, M. constricta, M. limax, M. saltatrix, M. urosalpinx, M. ventricularia
Subsection Tubulosae: 7 species, e.g. M. bangii, M. irapana, M. tubulosa
Section Mentosae: Monotypic – M. mentosa
Section Minutae: ~21 species, e.g. M. floribunda, M. herradurae, M. minuta, M. nicaraguae, M. wendlandiana
Section Racemosae: (≡Spectaculum) Monotypic – M. racemosa
Subsection Dentatae : (≡Petalodon) 2 species – M. collina, M. macrogenia
Subsection Reichenbachianae: (≡Reichantha) ~11 species, e.g. M. rolfeana, M. schroderiana, M. striatella
Subgenus Meleagris: (≡Rodrigoa) 7 species, e.g. M. anisomorpha, M. heteroptera, M. meleagris
Subgenus Nidifica: (≡Buccella) 4-5 species: e.g. M. dynastes, M. nidifica (including M. ventricosa)
Subgenus Polyantha (≡Alaticaulia)
Section Alaticaules: 97 species, e.g. M. bicolor, M. infracta, M. scobina, M. stenorrhynchos, M. tovarensis, M. vargasii, M. weberbaueri
Section Polyanthae: 7 species, e.g. M. discoidea, M. lata, M. polyantha, M. schlimii
Subgenus Scabripes (≡Portilla)
Subgenus Volvula (≡Streptoura)
- Gerritsen, Mary E. & Parsons, Ron (2005): Masdevallias, Gems of the Orchid World. Timber Press.
- Luer, Carlyle A.: Icones Pleurothallidinarum, Systematics of Masdevallia (multiple volumes). Missouri Botanical Garden Press. (1984–2003)
- Pridgeon, A.M., Solano, R., & Chase, M.W. (2001): Phylogenetic relationships in Pleurothallidinae (Orchidaceae): combined evidence from nuclear and plastid DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 88: 2286-2308.
- Media related to Masdevallia at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Masdevallia at Wikispecies
- Image gallery
- Ron Parsons Flowershots Masdevallia Species
- Masdevallia species and hybrids catalog with images