I am the tallest freestanding orchid and come from the perpetually cool high forests of Peru. I am reported to grow up to 44 feet or 13.5 meters high in optimum conditions. More typically I grow to 16.5 ft. high in open, sunny areas and 23 - 26 ft. in areas under a low tree canopy. My species name derives from the Latin and refers to my long stems.
My bright reddish - purple flowers are up to 6 inches or 15 centimeters across and are displayed in spectacular groups of up to 8 flowers per stem.My flowers last for two weeks on the plant and one week as a cut flower.
My common name in Quechua (the native Andean language) is “Inquil” or “Inkill”, meaning “bearer of language.” This is due to the wide lip of my large blooms.
My genus consists of about 125 species. Plants of my genus typically have reed-like stems that range in height from about 1 ft to 25 – 30 ft. They have heavily veined, bilobed, plicate, apical leaves all along the stem. The inflorescences on the apex of the stem carry one or two successive flowers with large sepals and petals. The short duration of the flower is caused by a self-digesting enzyme. Flower in my genus range in color from pure white to yellow, green, pink, purple, red, brown, and even a blue violet.
Massachusetts Orchid Society August 2011 newsletter. Copy of the .PDF file can be found here.