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Image of Catasetum hookeri



Botanical Name


Plant Common Name

Catasetum Orchid, Orchid

General Description

In late spring to summer, Hooker's catasetum orchid produces large, erect to arching flower stalks with tan to yellow green flowers. This species is native to the seasonally wet lowlands and highland forests in southeastern Brazil, around Rio, Brasilia and Sao Paulo. It's a winter deciduous epiphyte (grows on trees) that forms a perennial clump.

"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.

Hooker's catasetum produces pointed, curved, fleshy pseudobulbs with soft, pleated leaves of medium green with three nerve veins. The leaves shrivel and drop away by fall as the plant enters a natural period of winter dormancy through the cool tropical dry season. Flowering occurs anytime from late spring to midsummer. An arching flower stalk rises from the tip of a newly matured 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 much larger and showier than the smaller, hooded female flowers. In shade, plants may only produce male flowers. Male flowers are beige-yellow and green with red-spotted lips (labellum). Bright light encourages both female and male flowers to be produced.

Where hardy, Hooker's 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.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    18"-22" / 45.7cm - 55.9cm

  • Width

    20"-28" / 50.8cm - 71.1cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Green, Light Green, Tan

  • Flower Color Modifier


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Light Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive