Common Orchid Plant – Brassavola Orchid

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The Brassavola orchid is a genus of 20 orchids (family Orchidaceae). The name comes from a Venetian nobleman and botanist, Dr. Antonio Musa Brassavola.

These star shaped orchid species are native to the flat plains of Central America and tropical South America. They are epiphytes (plants that grow on top of other plants, but do not use them as a source of nutrients or water; taking their nutrients from the air), and a few are lithophytes (lithophytes feed off moss, nutrients in rain water, litter, and even their own dead tissue).

A single flower bud (or a cluster of a few flowers) at the top is accompanied by succulent leaves that grow on an elongated pseudo bulb (A thickened portion of the stem of many orchids functioning as a water and food storage device). The flowers usually vary from 1 to 5 inches in diameter, and range in colors from a greenish-white, to white, to yellow with brown markings.

In order to attract the appropriate moth for pollination, the Brassavolas’ release their citrus scents in the evening.

Brassavolas’ can be grown in the home but are more often grown in greenhouses outside, in the home, or under lights.

Historical Significance

The Brassavola nodosa was the first tropical orchid to be brought from the Caribbean island Curacao to Holland in 1968. As a result began the fascination for orchids in general as well as beginning the process of propagation of this orchid.

List of Brassavola Species

  • Brassavola acaulis (C. America; Belize)
  • Brassavola cucullata (Mexico to N. South America)
  • Brassavola duckeana (Brazil)
  • Brassavola fasciculata (Brazil)
  • Brassavola filifolia (Colombia)
  • Brassavola flagellaris (Brazil)
  • Brassavola fragans (Brazil)
  • Brassavola gardneri (French Guiana, Brazil)
  • Brassavola gillettei (Trinidad)
  • Brassavola grandiflora (C. America to Colombia)
  • Brassavola harrisii (Jamaica)
  • Brassavola martiana (S. Trop. America)
  • Brassavola nodosa (Mexico to Belize)
  • Brassavola reginae (Brazil)
  • Brassavola retusa (Venezuela, N. Brazil to Peru)
  • Brassavola revoluta (Brazil)
  • Brassavola rhomboglossa (WC. & S. Brazil)
  • Brassavola subulifolia (Jamaica)
  • Brassavola tuberculata (Brazil to Peru and NE. Argentina)
  • Brassavola venosa (SE. Mexico to C. America)

The Brassavola have been used extensively in hybridization, due to the same alliance the Brassavola holds with the Cattleya and Laelia orchids.

List of Common Hybrids

  • Brassavola Little Stars
  • Brassavola David Sanders, a primary hybrid between Brassavola cucullata and Rhyncholaelia digbyana. Rhyncolaelia digbyana was formerly classified as a Brassavola, and its hybrids have not been reclassified.
  • Brassolaelia Yellow Bird (Brassolaelia Richard Mueller x Brassavola nodosa)
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One response on “Common Orchid Plant – Brassavola Orchid”

  1. Karen Schuk says:

    Just learning about this beautiful species, it was given to me as a gift from a friend

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