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Pronunciation: max-ih-LARE-ee-uh

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily: Epidendroideae
  • Tribe: Maxillarieae
  • Subtribe: Maxillariinae
  • Genus: Maxillaria, Ruiz & Pavón 1794
  Maxillaria picta Maxillaria tenuifolia

General Characteristics

  • Pseudobulbs are round or oblong and each carry one or two lanceolate leaves.
  • Flowers grow solitary on short stalks, called scapes, from the base of the pseudobulb.
  • The flowers are never longer than the leaves.

The Maxillaria can be divided in two groups, according to the attachment of the lip to the column foot.

  • The lip is adnate to the column: these usually have small flowers.
  • The lip is articulated to the column: this is the largest group and has larger flowers.

Maxillaria, abbreviated as Max in horticultural trade. It is a diverse genus, with very different morphological forms. Their characteristics can vary widely. They are commonly called “Spider Orchid”, “Flame Orchid” or “Tiger Orchid”. Their scientific name is derived from the Latin word maxilla, meaning jawbone, reflecting on the column and the base of the lip of some species, that may evoke a protruding jaw.

They are distributed in the rain forest of tropical and subtropical America. This is an indication for the different temperature requirements, from warm growing to cold growing, within the genus.

They are mostly epiphytes, rather large in size, but some are terrestrials or even lithophytes. The showy Brazilian orchid Maxillaria picta can equally be found in the higher parts of a tree, as found growing on rocks, as long as the humidity of the air is high enough.

Many species are rather large with rampant growth.


  • Temperature: The bulk of the species do very well under intermediate temperatures (55F nights/85F days). Those species from high elevations will require cooler temperatures while those from hot lowlands will require warmer conditions.
  • Light: Most species respond well under bright light but no direct sun. Conditions similar to those for Cattleyas.
  • Water & Humidity: Most species should be watered year round. They should be watered thoroughly and then allowed to nearly dry before watering again. Since the majority of species come from humid or cloud forests, humidity should be maintained at 40-70% year round.
  • Fertilizer: Use a dilute, one-quarter to one-half strength orchid fertilizer about twice monthly during the growing season.
  • Potting: Many species are intolerant of being disturbed so a well-drained epiphyte potting medium should be chosen. Repotting should take place only when new growth AND new roots are visible.

Selected Species

Browse to Wikipedia to view the entire list of over 1,100 species.

  • Maxillaria cucullataCowl-carrying Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria densaCrowded Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria desvauxianaDesvaux’ Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria gracilisDelicate Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria jenischiana
  • Maxillaria lindleyanaLindley’s Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria notylioglossaNotylia-like Lip Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria palmifolia
  • Maxillaria parkeri
  • Maxillaria praetexta
  • Maxillaria rufescensLight Fox-red Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria sophronitisSophronitis-like Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria tenuifoliaDelicate-leafed Maxillaria, Coconut Pie Orchid
  • Maxillaria trilorisThree-strapped Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria uncataHook-shaped Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria variabilisVariable Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria vernicosaVarnished Maxillaria
  • Maxillaria virguncula
  • Maxillaria vitellinifloraYolk-yellow Flower Maxillaria



Read 4819 times Last modified on Saturday, 21 November 2015 17:57
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