Porroglossum muscosum

Family: Orchidaceae

Countries: Americas, Colombia, Ecuador, South America, Venezeula

Porroglossum muscosum gets its genus name – Porroglossum – from the Greek for ‘far, far away’ and ‘tongue’ – a reference to these plants flowers’ distinctive lip.  While the specific epithet, this plant’s species name – muscosum – means mossy – a reference to the plant’s hairy flowering stems.  This is a miniature orchid species that grows both as an epiphytic orchid – on other plants, and as a terrestrial orchid – when it grows on the forest floor, often in leaf litter.  Porroglossum muscosum hails from the cloud forests and wet mountainous forests of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.  Plants can be found growing in a range of altitudes, from 1600m to 300m above sea level.

I think this is such an incredibly interesting orchid species.  I love Porroglossum muscosum leaves, they have a lovely elliptic, ovate shape, which is complemented by a gorgeous, richly textured surface.  These leaves are thick and almost warty – I love them!

Porroglossum muscosum flowers are absolutely fascinating.  The plant’s blooms are produced one or two at a time; these small sized, triangular shaped flowers are held on downy, hairy stems.  I’ve saved the best part till last.  When a fly lands on the lip of a Porroglossum muscosum flower, it activates the lip to close shut, rather like a drawbridge being pulled up to prevent invaders crossing a castle moat.  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, where it will be encased and held close to the miniature orchid’s pollen.  The lip opens slowly, it takes around thirty minutes for the labellum’s mechanism to release the insect, when it will be covered in Porroglossum muscosum pollen, ready to pollinate another nearby bloom.

Porroglossum muscosum produces greenish- yellow, yellow, yellow, white, or yellow and purple coloured, long tailed flowers; plants flower in succession, throughout the year.  These orchids are related to Masdevallias.  If you’re trying to improve your plant’s health or encourage your plant to bloom, you will need to provide very humid growing conditions and ensure that your plants receive sufficient moisture and regular misting.  Optimum growing conditions can be achieved by placing your plants in an area where they can enjoy good air circulation, as well as high humidity.

This orchid species flourishes in shaded conditions.  Porroglossum muscosum thrives in shaded areas, where the plants can relax in soft, filtered, diffused, indirect light.

Porroglossum muscosum plants thrive in cool to intermediate growing conditions, in temperatures that range from 15C (59F) to a maximum of around 27C (80); with a minimum temperature of 12C (52F).  This miniature orchid grows very happily in a pot or planter, filled with a speciality orchid compost, comprised of a mixture of bark, charcoal, and moss.

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