The Outstanding Stanhopea

Stanhopea orchids are also known as the ‘upside-down orchid’, as they flower from the bottom of a hanging basket. These beauties shown here, have had a wonderful time flowering in Melbourne this year. The humid conditions in a normally dry-heat summer climate in Melbourne has turned these into wonderful flowering beauties.

  • Here are thirteen stanhopeas which featured in our January 2022 virtual voting competition.
  • The Stanhopea nigroviolacea species orchid, as indicated above, is native to the eastern slopes of the Mexican plateau at 1200-2000 metres. It produces two or three massive flowers each up to 17cm across. The nigroviolacea is the heaviest of all orchid flowers and its powerful vanilla perfume would fill a room – or empty it, depending on your perfume predilection!
  • Stanhopea tigrina (as shown above), is another species, first discovered around Mexico and Guatemala in 1839. This flower is clearly distinct with dotted tiger stripes.
  • The Stanhopea Spindleriana is an orchid hybrid originated by Spindler in 1890. It is a crossing of Stanhopea oculata x and Stanhopea tigrina. It is considered a “primary hybrid”, because it is a cross between two species. Highly fragrant, its perfume is a heady mix between vanilla and marshmallow.
  • The Stanhopea oculata is an elegant species that occurs in mountain forests at 1000-3000 metre elevations at a long sequence from Mexico through central America to Brazil. Its leopard-like spotting is recognizable by the slender, bent hypochile, with a clear internal right-angle.
  • Bellarensis is a hybrid of Stanhopea oculata and Stanhopea insignis. Insignis is a Brazilian species, which shows two or three big fleshy flowers, to 14cm across; sometimes a positive yellow, with red-purple and; often described as having a scent similar to that of licorice. It first flowered in Kew (UK) in 1828.

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  • The descriptions provided above are from Barney Greer’s The Astonishing Stanhopeas: The Upside-down orchids. (Publ. Sydney 1998)
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