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CATASETUM cernuum

Image of Catasetum cernuum

JTJJ/Chounder, Wikimedia Commons Contributor

Family

Orchidaceae

Botanical Name

CATASETUM cernuum

Plant Common Name

Nodding Catasetum Orchid, Orchid

General Description

Blooming from late spring into summer, nodding catasetum has fragrant spotted flowers of dark russet red and light yellow-green. This species is native to fragmented areas across South America's highland forests, from the hillsides of Venezuela and Trinidad to distant southeastern Brazil. It's an epiphyte (grows on trees) that forms a clump of leafy pseudobulbs that lose their leaves in winter.

"Catasetum" is a Greek compound word meaning "down bristle." This orchid genus is unique in having different gendered flowers on the same plant. Male flowers have an antenna-like trigger device that snaps pollen onto the backs of visiting bees. These pollen-covered insects then find a hooded female flower and unknowingly pollinate it. Because male and female flowers look different, people may have considerable difficulty identifying plants, especially if growing conditions or gender diphasy prevents the development of both flower genders on a single plant at the same time.

The nodding catasetum orchid has fleshy pseudobulbs with medium green, thin, pleated leaves. The leaves shrivel and drop away by fall as the plant enters a natural dormancy through the cool, dry tropical winter season. Flowering occurs well after new spring growth emerges. Nodding catasetum blooms from late spring to midsummer. An erect but arching flower stalk rises from newly developing pseudobulbs and carries either all male flowers or all female flowers. A plant can produce both flower types, but always on separate flower stalks. Male Catasetum flowers are showier and larger than the cup-like female flowers. In more shade, a plant may only produce male flowers while bright light encourages both female and male flowers to be produced. Nodding catasetum's male flowers are light green and russet while female blossoms are yellow-green.

Where hardy, bearded catasetum can be grown outdoors mounted on a tree trunk or in a hanging basket or slatted wood box. In frostier climes it should be grown indoors in a warm greenhouse or very bright sunroom. Plant in coarse bark nuggets for orchid culture and provide full sun to very bright dappled shade. Too little light prevents good flowering. Water the orchid freely when new growth and foliage is present (mid-spring to fall). From fall to spring, water very little. Do not begin spring watering until new leaf growth reaches two inches (5 cm) long. Good air circulation with high humidity will encourage good growth. Fertilize weekly with a dilute solution of balanced fertilizer from spring to late summer. Don't be alarmed when the leaves turn yellow in fall; this is the signal dormancy has set in and to markedly reduce watering.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Epiphyte

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade

  • Height

    12"-20" / 30.5cm - 50.8cm

  • Width

    16"-20" / 40.6cm - 50.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green, Dark Red, Light Green, Sienna

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No