Pelatantheria insectifera

Family : Orchidaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini


The species is native to Andaman Islands, Assam, Bangladesh, Himalaya, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, where it grows in the forests and the thickets on calcareous soils at low and medium altitudes.

The exact etymology of the genus has not been specified by the author, after some it comes from the Greek “πέλας” = near and “ανθηρά” (anthera) = anther; the name of the species is the combination of the Latin substantive “insectum” = insect and of the verb “fero” = to carry, due to the resemblance of the flower to an insect. Common names: euang jakajan (Thai), môi râu ruồi (Vietnamese).

The Pelatantheria insectifera (Rchb.f.) Ridl. (1896) is an epiphytic or lithophytic monopodial species with cylindrical, slightly compressed, ramified, 30-50 cm long, stems of 0,5 cm of diameter, provided of aerial roots and alternate leaves, distichous, rigid, fleshy, ovate-elliptic with bilobed apex, 2-5 cm long and 1-1,8 cm broad. Lateral racemose, 0,5-2 cm long, inflorescences, bearing 2-5 close flowers 0,8-1,5 cm broad and 2,2 cm long. Ovate sepals and petals, 0,5-0,8 cm long and 0,2-0,3 cm broad, of greenish yellow colour with two reddish brown stripes, fleshy trilobed labellum equipped with a sort of spur at the base, 0,6-1 cm long, with triangular, white, erect lateral lobes, and cordate median lobe, about 0,5 cm broad, of pink colour, and 0,2 cm long and broad column, with a tuft of hairs on the sides of the apex. It reproduces by seed, in vitro, and by division, with each part provided of leaves and of roots.

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Miniature orchid, rare in cultivation, Pelatantheria insectifera is native to Assam, Bangladesh, Himalaya, India, Andaman Islands, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Epiphytic or lithophytic, has inflorescences only 5-20 mm long (right photo) with 2-5 close flowers, 8-15 mm broad and 22 mm long © Giuseppe Mazza

Miniature orchid rare in cultivation, with vigorous vegetation, requires high luminosity, also some hours of direct sun in the morning, medium-high temperatures, 22-30 °C in summer, slightly cooler in winter with lowest night values preferably not less than 14 °C, high humidity, 70-85%, and constant, good, ventilation. It needs frequent and abundant waterings and nebulisations, utilizing rainwater, demineralised or from reverse osmosis, to be done in the morning in order to allow the plant to dry up before evening. The fertilizations, during the period of active vegetation, are to be done preferably with hydrosoluble balanced products, with microelements, at half of the dosage suggested on the package, to be alternated with the waterings in way to avoid accumulation of salts at the roots.

It can be cultivated simply suspended or in baskets without any compost or mounted on bark, trunks or rafts of arborescent ferns, or put in pot with aerated and draining compost which may be formed by bark and 3-4 cm pieces of charcoal, possibly provided of a musky tutor as support. Transplants and repottings are to be done when strictly necessary, previously moistening the roots in way to render them more flexible and less frail.

The species is reported in the appendix II of the CITES (species whose trade is internationally ruled).

Synonyms: Sarcanthus insectifer Rchb.f. (1857).


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