This is a special orchid portrait for a special orchid. On the morning of our 10th wedding anniversary, my husband went to the local farmer’s market … and came back with this Stanhopea tigrina in bud. You could imagine my surprise when the trip for cucumbers and oranges turned into a Stanhopea with two flower spikes!
I still don’t quite understand how a Stanhopea species appeared there … but somehow he manifested quite a striking and memorable new addition to our collection. Then again, this is the person who managed to hide a large Vanda in a closet for several days for a Christmas surprise. (The orchid was quite fine, though perhaps not appreciative of its temporary dwelling).
The flowers were perfectly timed as well. The next day, I left for my morning trail run at 6:30am, and the flowers were still tightly budded. When I arrived home two hours later, as I opened the door, the wave of fragrance immediately washed over me. It was impressive — one flower spike with three flowers had magically opened while I was gone.
The size and pendulous nature of the flowers defied my usual photography setup so I had the pleasure of migrating the orchid from place to place in different parts of our growing area that morning, to find good lighting and unique angles. It reminded me of my “treasure hunts” for rare wildflowers many years ago.
As I said … a special orchid portrait … one basket of Stanhopea tigrina suspended in at least four different places in morning light … and a new decade begins …
Stanhopea tigrina is native to Mexico, and tolerates cool to warm conditions. It can be grown outside in our area for three seasons, and over-wintered indoors. I have seen a specimen plant grown in an unheated greenhouse near the coast; the foliage quality was fairly rough, though it flowered beautifully.
Max Redman, an experienced Australian grower and hybridizer of Stanhopea, contacted me regarding the flowers for the plant photographed above. He noted that “there are too many mesochiles and horns on the flower. There should be only one mesochile and hypochile along with two horns. This is a problem that can occur at times when there has been a breakdown of the genes within the flower.” He concurred with my observation that the unusual flower form does not affect the plant growth or floriferousness.
Interested in more unique and beautiful orchid images?
My vision to create orchid portraits emerged from my appreciation for the “whole orchid.” So many photographs of orchids focus only on the flower. But orchids are not flowers: they are entire plants and living beings. Connect more deeply with the many dimensions of orchids …