Venezuelan Orchids – Shreveport 10 June 2001


A Sampling of Genera found in Venezuela


Acineta, Anguloa, Brassavola, Brassia, Catasetum, Cattleya, Chysis, Coryanthes, Cycnoches, Cyrtochilum, Dichaea, Dimerandra, Elleanthus, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Galeandra, Gongora, Lycaste, Masdevallia, Maxillaria, Mormodes, Notylia, Oncidium, Paphinia, Peristeria, Phragmipedium, Pleurothallis, Polycycnis, Polystachya, Rodriguezia, Scaphyglottis, Psychopsis, Schomburgkia, Sobralia, Stanhopea, Telipogon and Xylobium.



VZ Cattleyas – unifoliate, labiate, all flower from a single-sheath, pods take six months to mature
[Photos 1, 3, 4, and 5
ă Greg Allikas, The Orchid Photo Page,; AOS webmaster]




C. gaskelliana                    C. jenmanii                         C. lueddemaniana             C. mossiae           C. percivaliana


Cattleya gaskelliana – Reichenbach f. 1883

Named for Mr. Holbrook Gaskell, a collector/grower and chemical manufacturer in Liverpool, U.K.
This species  is also found in Colombia. The plants grow both epiphytically on trees next to streams as well as lithophytically on rocks in full sun.  The flowers are the largest in the genus (after C. warscewiczii), up to 18-20cm across. They have good substance and are pale-medium lavender with a yellow throat and a darker purple patch on the apical portion of the lip. There are also rare alba, semi-alba, and coerulea (‘Blue Dragon’) varieties.   It grows at 700-1100m and thus requires cooler conditions and a dry rest. Blooms July to September.

Cattleya jenmanii – Rolfe 1906

This species grows in bright light between 400-1000m in the Roraima area of southern VZ and is also found in neighboring Guyana. It was “lost” between 1906 and 1969, when Garay idenitified some plants collected by Dunsterville.  Flowers are typically rich rose-purple with orange-yellow veins in throat, two white eyes, and a darker purple spot toward apex of lip. There are several color forms, including alba, semi-alba, concolor, coerulea, and aquini. Blooms in December and has a nice perfume.

Cattleya lueddemanniana – Reichenbach f. 1854

This endemic species is prized for its perfumed fragrance, rich rose-purple color and full flowers. There are also white, blue, and semi-alba forms.  Native to the warm to hot, dryer, north-facing lowlands of the Venezuelan coastal range.  It has nearly cylindrical pseudobulbs and long, narrow leaves.  Described by Reichenbach in 'Exnia Orchidacea' and named after Mr. Lueddemann, the gardener of Ms. Pescatore of St. Cloud - Paris. Later recognized as the same species as the British Cattleya speciosissima.  Famous clone ‘Stanley’s’ blooms in spring (April, May) in Houston. Needs a dry rest period; grow in clay with a well-draining medium.

Cattleya mossiae  - Hooker 1839

This is a lovely Venezuelan species is well known to literally everyone.  Ned Nash considers this one of the “Big Three Cattleya Species,” along with C. labiata (Brazil) and C. trianaei (Colombia).

C. mossiae is named for Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Moss of Aigburgh (Liverpool banker), in whose collection it first flowered. It has two growing periods during the year. It is dormant from November to February. There are  two to five flowers per inflorescence in late spring or early summer.

In 1934, and for a number of years thereafter, a jungle collector near El Tocuya, Venezuela, sent from 20 to 50 cases a year of C. mossiae to Mr. Edward A. Manda.  There are several blue forms, most of them have been jungle collected and carry varietal names, such as 'Reineckiana, Blue Lip' and 'McPeaks'.

Sepal and petal coloration is white, occasionally medium blue. The lip is one of the most striking of the color group. The typical C. mossiae veining coloration is a fairly dark blue. The eyes and throat are an old gold. Where the veining overlays the gold, it becomes crimson lavender.

Cattleya percivaliana – Reichenbach f. 1882

Named in honour of R. P. Percival of Birkdale, Southport, U.K..   This is known as the “Christmas Cattleya” and unlike other labiate cattleyas has a musty odor.

The peasants in the Venezuelan state of Trujillo go to the mountains (1400-2000m) and collect bagfuls of orchid plants to sell. This species often grows on rocks in the full sun.  A famous variety here in the US is 'Summit' FCC/AOS, with lavender/pink flowers, a deep magenta lip with pink picotee and orange throat.  An "alba" form is also known. A blue variety called “Ondina” was collected in 1962 and won first prize as Best National Colored Cattleya at the First Valencia National Orchid Show in 1964.


Cattleya violacea- (Kunth) Rolfe

Grows in warm conditions at low elevations in southern Venezuela (Amazonas and Bolivar States), Guyana and NW Brazil along Orinoco River tributaries; also along rivers in Colombia and possibly Ecuador and Peru. Best in basket or mounted; don’t disturb too often as it grows roots sluggishly. Several color forms, including a very rare alba.



Venezuelan Orchid Societies





Books on Venezuelan Orchids


Aulisi A., Carlo and  Ernesto Foldats (1990), Monography of the VENEZUELAN CATTLEYAS and its varieties.

Couret, Pierre (1982)  Jewels of the Venezuelan Orchids. Caracas: Libreria Alemana Oscar Todtmann S.R.L.

Dunsterville, G. C. K. (1987) Venezuelan Orchids.  Venezuela: E. Armitano.

Dunsterville, G.C.K. and L. Garay (1959-1976), Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated, Vol. 1-6.  London: A. Deutsch   (hardcover)

Dunsterville, G.C.K. and L. Garay (1979), A Field Guide to Venezuelan Orchids.    (softcover set in slip case)

Dunsterville, G.C.K. and E., Orchid Hunting in the Lost World (and Elsewhere in Venezuela).

Foldats, Ernesto (1964) Flora of Venezuela: Orchidaceae.   (Five Volumes + Index)

Romero, Gustavo and Germin Carnevali (2000), Orchids of Venezuela, an Illustrated Field Guide – 2nd Edition.  (softcover set in slip case)

Romero, Gustavo A. (1998)  Venezuela, Orchid Paradise.  Venezuela: Armitano Editores



Pertinent AOS slide programs (both by G.C.K. “Stalky” Dunsterville)

501 Orchids of Northern Venezuela (80 slides, 50 minutes). In this program, a highly enjoyable commentary is combined with top-rated color photography by the late G.C.K. Dunsterville. He shares his keen interest and broad experience in orchid gathering in Venezuela, concentrating on the northern areas which are more accessible for the average orchid traveler.

502 Orchids of the Venezuelan Interior (80 slides, 50 minutes). Here’s a second offering by one of the most knowledgeable persons in the field of Venezuelan orchids. This time Dunsterville leads his audience on an orchid-collecting trip into the less accessible areas of the Venezuelan interior, using his notable technical skill in color photography to record some of the fine orchids he has found.