Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Catasetum Orchidglade, curious hermaphroditic intersex flowers

Male flower
Intersex flower
Intersex flower
intersex flower

I have had this plant of Catasetum Orchidglade for about twenty years now.  It has bloomed many times during those years.  One thing that is interesting of Catasetum is that they normally produce imperfect flowers, those are flowers that instead of carrying both male and female parts are either male or female.    The male flowers are brightly colored, have a mechanism for shooting pollinia and are relatively numerous.  The female flowers are green, sack like, and only a few are produced in an inflorescence.  It seems that plants need to get full sun to be able to produce female flowers.¹

Rarely, Catasetum produces hermaphroditic intersex flowers.  In the case of my plant, all three flowers were slightly different in the expression of the male and female parts.  The male flowers, in the case of Catasetum Orchidglade, are bright red with some yellow/white spotting.  The female flowers are apple green.  Given this, you can easily see in the photos which parts of the flower express the male appearance and which are female.   I don’t have a clue as to what prompted this event.  With a single exception in which the plant produced female flowers, when I had this plant in full sun, all other bloomings to this date had been male flowers.

The wide variability in color, number and shape on the flowers of Catasetum was a real headache of orchid taxonomists when this genus was first found.    Much confusion occurred in England in the heyday of the orchid fever in the nineteen century when plants sent from Center and South America would bloom with flowers that were radically different from what the plant exporters had described to the buyers.  For amateur orchid growers this means that the culture they give the plant can make it produce flowers that don’t look like what they expected.   

¹Northen, Rebecca T.  1990.  Home Orchid Growing. Fourth revised edition

2 comments:

Elisabete Delfini said...

Um Show, arrasou. Parabéns pelas belíssimas plantas e fotos.
abraços

Ian Lim said...

hi there,

nice Orchidglade you have there. the sex of catasetum flowers are much influence by lighting (sorry i do not have exact figures of candle foot) but generally female flowers are produce in high light intensity and usually in robust plants. in the other hand, male flowers are often produce when growing light growing condition are lower. it is always easier to induce formation of male flowers.
hermaphrodite flowers can also be induced quite easily, all you had to do is early recognition of female spike (at very early stage)then put the plant in heave shade condition, most likely you will have a hermaphrodite. i had done this a couple of times

best regards