Even if it weren't scented like an ice cream sundae, this pale yellow tulip orchid with red marbled petals and gracefully curved sepals would still be one of our most striking species. But best of all is what's hidden inside.
As I unwrapped the layers of sepals and petals, the sight of the lip actually made me laugh.
All anguloas have a hinged lip to facilitate pollination, but cliftonii'slip has something special in the way of ornamentation.
The lip is a miniature bowl with flared edges, and its ornate apex arches backwards as Henry Oakeley writes in his book Lycaste, Ida and Anguloa, "like the handle of a ewer." Ewer?
That sent me on a Google search. Above is the lip rotated 180º and flipped horizontally, looking like a tiny pitcher with a handle, a ewer. How cool is that?
The apex of the lip is the source of the fragrance, which is highly attractive to at least one species of Euglossine bees. It is angled toward the column, so that the bee's weight causes it to tilt toward the anther cap and pollinarium. Upon contact the pollinarium is attached to the bee's abdomen.
Our tulip orchids are off to a slow start this summer, but I expect there will be many for you to see in the Orchid Display House in July. They are wonderful!
The Fuqua Orchid Center showcases the Atlanta Botanical Garden's large and diverse collection of orchids. Orchids are exhibited year round in the 16,000 sq. ft. display space, consisting of landscaped areas and seasonal displays. Our spring orchid extravaganza, ORCHIDdaze, runs for ten weeks in Feb, March and April.