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Monday, July 28, 2014

Little Fans

I'm a big fan of little fans -miniature orchids with flattened leaves that overlap at the base. Maybe it's their simplicity. Or their slightly imperfect symmetry. I think they are perfect.

Pictured here is an Ornithocepahalus, which translates from the ancient Greek as 'bird-headed', a fanciful reference to the rounded shape of the column apex. If you look carefully at the photo, you can see one of the tiny bird's heads, inverted, with its long beak in silhouette against the second long leaf. About 50 species of Ornithocephalus grow in the New World tropics and the Caribbean, mainly as epiphytes.

Bonus points: we seem to have produced a tiny hedgehog of a seed capsule, although through no effort of our own. S. L. Buchman reports that the flowers of Ornithocephalus posses oil producing glands and attract anthophorid bees that gather oil as food for their larvae. Clearly some tiny pollinator has been at work in our greenhouses. (Whoever you are, thanks for saving me the eye strain!)

Ornithocepahlus isn't the only genus with tiny fans. Check out TolumniaBolusiellaOberonia, Psygmorchis, and Trizeuxis. If you want to grow some of these, you may find that the Tolumnia hybrids, all beautiful, are the easiest to find commercially.


  1. Where can one purchase Ornithosepahlus? I think it's charming!

  2. Thank you for the excellent introduction to Ornithocepahalus.

    Here are more miniature orchids for your enjoyment:


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