Author: Celeste Booth2 Comments
Orchids in the Platystele genus are known for being particularly small. So small, in fact, that some species are still being discovered due to their hard-to-spot nature. The genus has around 95 identified species so far, and the following are a few of some of the most miniature, documented varieties.
This epiphytic orchid is naturally found throughout Central America and has blossoms measuring only 0 .1″ (2.5mm) big. It requires high humidity and prefers the shade. This species also prefers warm temperatures, ranging from 80°F (during the day) to 64°F (at night).
As you can see in the photo to the left, the platystele jungermannioides is no bigger than a finger. It can be cultivated indoors with regular misting and does well under artificial lights. It grows well atop bark with sphagnum moss.
This species also requires high levels of humidity and is found throughout Mexico and Central America. The plant is only around inch tall with flowers 0.3″ in size. The flower spikes hold on average 4-5 blossoms at a time, and are long-lasting.
The blossoms are distinguished by their bright orange lips and white, translucent-like petals. This species thrives best in temperatures ranging form 60-83°F.
The platystele umbellata is an epiphytic orchid that usually blooms from winter to spring. Its flowers grow in small bunches (five to nine blossoms), which are approximately 0.2″ wide, and has leaves a little over an inch long.
Although very small, the flowers are a beautiful burgundy color. This species is native to Colombia, but can be grown successfully by keeping them in shade, moist, and in warm temperatures.
And the Smallest Orchid Yet!
Four years ago, Lou Jost, an American botanist, discovered the smallest orchid species in recorded history in Ecuador. The flowers measure just 0.08″ (2.1mm), beating the previous record-holder platystele jungermannioides. Dr. Jost said of the discovery, “I found it among the roots of another plant that I had collected, another small orchid which I took back to grow in my greenhouse to get it to flower. A few months later I saw that down among the roots was a tiny little plant that I realized was more interesting than the bigger orchid.”
In fact, the petals on this tiny orchid are so slender that they are merely one cell thick, making them transparent. This is one of over 1,000 species that has been discovered in Ecuador in the last century, and was the 60th new species that Dr. Jost has discovered.
Do you grow a miniature orchid variety or have you seen one in person? Share your thoughts and stories below!
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