May 3, 2011

Dracula lotax

This is one of those orchid names that makes me laugh.  There is a whole group of orchids, well over a hundred species, called Draculas, named for their odd flowers and their fancied resemblance to a dragon's mouth.  They are related to Masdevallia and belong to the group of Central and South American orchids known as Pleurothallids.

The name of this species is especially humorous since lotax means "clown," so that it is literally the "Clown Dracula," which is rather incongruous.  It is so named however, because it has a little clown's face in the center of the flower.  It is the name Dracula that really does not fit, since this miniature species does not have the dark, bat-wing flowers of some other species in the genus.

The plant is 12 cm tall and the flowers about half that size.  It requires relatively low light, cool and damp conditions, and can be grown in a pot since its flower spikes are held upright, unlike those species that send their spikes downward.  I grow it in live sphagnum moss in a net pot and keep it as far away from the lights as is possible in my orchidarium.

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