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CATASETUM integerrimum

Image of Catasetum integerrimum

Family

Orchidaceae

Botanical Name

CATASETUM integerrimum

Plant Common Name

Catasetum Orchid, Orchid

General Description

The intact catasetum orchid is known for its fragrant green and pale yellow flowers that look hooded or cloaked. It's relatively easy to grow, as long as the watering regime promotes the mandatory winter dormancy. This tropical orchid is native to the hot, humid forests of southern Mexico to Costa Rica, often appearing in coffee plantations.

"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.

Intact catasetum is an epiphyte that grows on tree trunks. It develops a clump of conical pseudobulbs that attach to trees with their fleshy roots. The thin, lance-shaped leaves are light green and pleated. They shrivel and drop away by late fall as the plant enters a natural winter dormancy period. Flowering occurs well after new spring growth emerges. Intact catasetum blooms anytime from late spring to fall. A flower stalk rises from the tip of mature pseudobulbs and carries either all male flowers or all female flowers (or occasional bisexual flowers). A plant can produce both flower types, but always on separate flower stalks. The male flowers are dull light yellow while the female blossoms are green. The petals create an ominous, hooded flower face. In shade, plants may only produce male flowers, while both female and male flowers are produced in higher light. Female flowers are also held upside-down, with the lip on the upper half of the blossom.

Where hardy, intact 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

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2

  • Plant Type

    Epiphyte

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    16"-24" / 40.6cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    22"-32" / 55.9cm - 81.3cm

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Green, Light Yellow, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Green, 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