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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stealth Fragrance

Hiding in plain sight in the Orchid Display House is one of the most deliciously fragrant orchids in our collection. Braemia vittata seems to wait with calculated patience as you pass it by on the way to a bigger showier orchid. Then, when you are about ten feet downwind, its 'come hither' message turns you around. Braemia vittata flowers produce an astonishingly convincing made-in-a-bakery vanilla icing fragrance.

With its single accordion-pleated leaf, Braemia vittata superficially resembles a Polycycnis. And the arching column hints at a genetic affinity for the swan orchids. But the petals and sepals of Braemia are a deep blackened purple with yellow stripes (vittata means striped), and the lip has a furrowed callus instead of the fright-wig fringe of a Polycycnis.

Braemia is a genus with just a single species. B. vittata grows as a terrestrial in wet forests in French Guinea, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, northern Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru at 50 to 500 meters elevation. We grow our plants right alongside our Polycycnis in a warm greenhouse in 80% shade in a mixture of premium moss and chopped tree fern fiber.


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