19 September 2012

Oeceoclades gracillima: won't you crawl inside?

Oeceoclades gracillima
Don't you just want to crawl inside?

Oeceoclades gracillima (Schltr.) Garay & P.Taylor is an orchid native to Madagascar that has stunning maroon and black mottled foliage which is hard to capture properly on film, but you can see one of the better images here. (In case you were wondering, you pronounce the genus name ee-see-o-CLA-deez.)

I picked this one up from Michel Orchid Nursery when they were at the orchid show and sale at Longwood Gardens in March 2012. I'm so happy it finally flowered as this means I'm able to dry and press a specimen for a voucher and begin working on isolating and sequencing DNA from the leaves and flowers on the other inflorescence. It's not the prettiest flowering orchid around - the flowers are mostly small and drab - but it's got character elsewhere in the leaves.

For those of you with a sharp eye who follow the blog because of my interest in carnivorous plants, you'll notice that this species had originally been named Eulophia gracillima by the German orchid specialist Friedrich Richard Rudolf Schlechter in 1913. That name was supplanted in 1976, however, by the new combination when Leslie Andrew Garay and none other than the Utricularia expert Peter Taylor!

Taylor was also the co-author of another combination, Oeceoclades roseo-variegata, which according to the Kew World Checklist is now a synonym of O. gracillima. The former is still in use, however, and was how my plant came labeled from the nursery.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, and this little flower has a wonderful little nectar spur. Overall, a great, compact orchid that was really easy to cultivate.

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