Orchid (Cattleya dowiana)

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Cattleya dowiana flower
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Orchid fact file

Orchid description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderOrchidales
FamilyOrchidaceae (1)
GenusCattleya

This exotic orchid has extremely showy and highly fragrant flowers, usually between 5 and 6 on each spike (5). The petals and sepals of this species are large, frilled and bright yellow in colour (5). They also have flecks of crimson at the base and margins; the broad lip-petal is a rich crimson colour with golden veins (2). A number of different varieties with markedly differing colour patterns have been described but are no longer seen. These include a variety known as 'Rosita' which had creamy white sepals and rose-purple petals tinged with yellow (2). It is thought that an increase in cultivation of this species might reveal these varieties again (2).

Size
Flower diameter: 13 - 18 cm (2)
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Orchid biology

This orchid blooms towards the end of summer and early autumn, it requires warmth, moisture and ample light to grow (2).

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Orchid range

Found in Costa Rica and Panama in Central America, this orchid is restricted to the Atlantic slopes of the mountains (6).

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Orchid habitat

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Orchid status

Scarce and seems threatened (3). Listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

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Orchid threats

Cattleya dowiana is highly prized by collectors for its stunning blooms, and wild plants are collected for sale (6). This species is only known from a restricted habitat, which is under increasing threat of destruction (6). Exact population details are unknown, but the species is thought to be scarce and threatened (6).

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Orchid conservation

This plant is difficult to grow in cultivation (6), and it may therefore be necessary for in-situ conservation measures to be established, if this beautiful flower is to survive.

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Authentication

Authenticated (2/6/03) by Dr Phillip Cribb. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

In-situ
Measures to conserve a species or habitat that occur inside of the natural range of the species.
Sepals
A floral leaf (collectively comprising the calyx of the flower) that forms the protective outer layer of a flower bud. (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2003) www.redlist.org
  2. Wither, C.L. (1988) The Cattleyas and their relatives. Timber Press, Oregon.
  3. Cribb, P. (2002) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
  4. CITES (February, 2003) www.cites.org
  5. Hawkes, A.D. (1965) Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids. Faber & Faber, London.
  6. Hágsater, E. & Dumont, V. (1996) Orchids: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Orchid Specialist Group.
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Image credit

Cattleya dowiana flower  
Cattleya dowiana flower

© Phillip J. Cribb / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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