Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ponthieva racemosa, the shadow witch, an orchid native of Puerto Rico

Ponthieva racemosa

Inflorescence, top view

A fly with pollinia stuck to its mouth parts

Pontieva racemosa goes by the common name “the shadow witch”, I don’t know the origin of the name but I am sure it is due to its preference for growing in shaded locations.  It has a patchy distribution in the Rio Abajo forest where it can be locally abundant.  When this plant is not in bloom there is little to betray that it is an orchid.   You can sometimes see it in roadside banks among the weeds as a low growing rosette of leaves growing in the shadow under the trees.  Locally it blooms in the winter and all the plants in a location bloom together.  The flowers are green and small.  It is not in cultivation and I have never seen it exhibited in any of our local orchid shows.

A group of Ponthieva racemosa

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