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Dracula simia orchid with a monkey’s face

Dracula simia orchid with a monkey’s face

The Dracula Simia are a rare species of orchid that lives in the rainforestĀ of Peru and Ecuador, at 2000 meters above sea level. What makes them special is the recognizable face of a monkey in them, and the extremes reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s vampire teeth, from which they are named. They bloom at any time of the year, and their scent is very similar to that of sour orange.

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The orchid genus Dracula, abbreviated as Drac in horticultural trade, consists of 118 species. The strange name Dracula literally means “little dragon”, referring to the strange aspect of the two long spurs of the sepals. They were once included in the genus Masdevallia, but became a separate genus in 1978. This genus has some of the more bizarre and well-known species of the subtribe Pleurothallidinae.

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These epiphytic and terrestrial species are distributed in Central America and the northwest Andes, almost half in Ecuador alone. They prefer shadow and an even, rather cold, temperature.
These caespitose orchids grow in tufts from a short rhizome, with a dense pack of stems. They lack pseudobulbs. On each stems grows one large, thin, plicate leaf with a sharply defined midrib. These glabrous, light to dark green leaves may be spongy, taking over the function of the missing pseudobulb. They are tipped with a mucro (a short tip).

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The flower stalks grow either horizontally from the base of the plant or descend, often for great distances. A few species grow upright flower stalks. The long-tailed terminal flowers are basically triangular. The flowers are borne singly or successively. Three species (sodiroi, decussata/neisseniae, and papillosa) may have up to three simultaneously open flowers on a single stalk. In general, though, if there is more than one flower bud on the raceme, they open up with long intervals. These flowers have a weird aspect, due to the long tails on each sepal. The petals are small and somewhat thickened. The lip is often quite large for a Pleurothallid and may resemble a mushroom or fungus. The fleshy basal part of the lip (hypochile) is cleft. The terminal part (epichile) is rounded and concave. The margins of the perianth are often fringed. There is a well-developed column with two pollinia.

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