Porroglossum echidna

Family: Orchidaceae

Countries: Americas, Colombia, South America, Venezeula

Porroglossum echidna is a mini miniature sized orchid species, from the cloud forests of Colombia and Venezuela.  Plants grow at a range of locations in these mountainous regions, at heights from between 2500m and 3200m above sea level.

This cute little orchid species flourishes in very humid environments; it’s perfectly suited to growing inside a terrarium or bottle garden, or another enclosure where the humidity levels remain at 75%RH and above.  Plants need to be misted daily.

Porroglossum echidna plants produce very handsome golden yellow flowers, which have a triangular shape that’s reminiscent of a mini Masdevallia bloom.  Each flower is held on wonderfully fuzzy, hairy flowering stems.

This lovely little orchid can flower at any time of year.  Porroglossum flowers are fascinating!  When a fly lands on the lip of a Porroglossum flower, the minute weight of this insect dropping onto the bloom is enough to trigger the flower’s lip to close shut.  I think of this action as being rather like a drawbridge being pulled up.  This action happens quite quickly, it just takes a second or two for the lip to enclose, (hopefully) capturing a fly, or another tiny insect, within the centre of the flower.  The insect will be imprisoned close to the miniature orchid’s pollen; as the fly scrambles around trying to escape, it will make repeated, frantic contact with the orchid’s pollen.  The flower’s lip opens slowly, it takes around thirty minutes for the labellum’s mechanism to release the insect, when it will be covered in Porroglossum pollen, ready to pollinate another nearby bloom.  Each bloom closes automatically in the evening.

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