From the wilds of Ecuador and Peru come Monkey Orchids, beautiful flowers with monkey faces (when you squeeze them the right way)
If you don’t see why this orchid gets its name, move back from your screen a few feet and take another look. Close up, the similarity is good. From a distance it’s incredible.
Monkey Orchids in Ecuadorian and Peruvian Cloud Forests
These wonderful monkey orchids thrive in the south-eastern Ecuadorian and Peruvian cloud forests. Most people have never seen them before since they live 3,500 to 7,000 feet in cloud forests.
Monkey Orchids’ genus is Dracula Simia, in part because of their monkey-like faces.
And Dracula? That’s because the two long sepal spurs resemble Dracula’s fangs.
The orchid was only named in 1978 by the botanist Luer but is in a family containing over 120 species mostly found in Ecuador.
Up in the cloud mountains the monkey orchid can flower at any time – it is not season specific.
Its scent resembles that of a ripe orange. But it’s probably wise not to eat one.
The examples seen here are all cultivated – though it remains very rare in ‘captivity’.
For that reason don’t make a dash down to your local horticulturalist.
Yet for those lucky enough to have one, it can thrive and flower if kept cool in partial shade,
Like all orchids, however, it needs a lot of care and patience – so you may want to consider planting tulips instead.
Photos courtesy of Flickr user Jose X and Sr. Carol of the Dominican Sisters at Mission San Jose. Video courtesy of National Geographic’s “Cloud Forest Project.”