ORCHID COLLECTION | Orchid See, Orchid Do!

Posted on Tue., Oct. 30, 2012 by Brandon Tam
Dracula orchid
Dracula gaskelliana

Dracula simia has been monkeying around in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru since its discovery to humans in 1978. Despite more than 130 known species of Dracula so far, many more varieties of this genus are yet to come.

Dracula simia was first discovered by Carlyle A. Luer, who was a specialist within the Pleurothallid Alliance (Pleurothallids are a subtribe of Dracula, according to some taxonomists). In Latin, Dracula literally means “little dragon,” while simia translates as “having a strong resemblance in characteristics of apes or monkeys.” You’ll understand the name when you get a close look at the flower, which has the informal name of the “Monkey Orchid.”

The plant blooms generously throughout the year as long as it receives an intermediate to cool environment. It is typically potted in sphagnum moss to keep a constantly wet atmosphere since it does not enjoy drying out. Draculas for the most part are watered daily, in an indirect to low light environment. This genus usually grows at an elevation ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 feet depending on the species requirements and growing habits.

Dracula orchid
Dracula cordobae

While at The Fascination of Orchids Show in Santa Ana last month, Ecuagenera (a nursery that exports plants from Ecuador) was selling various species that are a part of the Dracula family. The Huntington was able to obtain 10 different types of species, including psittacina, gigas, cordobae, simia, cordobae, hirsuta, vampira, diana, gaskelliana, and gaskelliana. Dracula vampira is a fantastic one to have, especially with Halloween coming up. It looks exactly like a monkey but with the addition of vampire-like colors of black, green, and orange. Dracula venefica is another notable species because of it close resemblance to orangutans.

If you are interested in purchasing a plant like this, Ecuagenera and Andy’s Orchids of Encinitas, Calif., are great places to start. The plants are relatively inexpensive, ranging from 20 to 40 dollars for a blooming size plant. These two vendors are very well known for their exotic orchids. They typically travel around the country selling at different orchid shows year round. Visit their websites to see where their next stop will be!

Brandon Tam is The Huntington’s orchid specialist.