What's in Bloom?
Location in Conservatory: Highlands Gallery hanging on south wall near the orchid case
Native to: Borneo
This unique species of carnivorous pitcher plant lives in tropical areas where there is a small population of ants. Ants make up a large portion of food in the Nepenthacae family’s diet. The N. lowii has adapted to this lack of prey by finding other ways to gain nutrients. Shrews and birds sit on the pitcher and eat the white, protein-rich substance secreted by bristles on the lid. As they eat, the animals defecate in the pitchers, providing the necessary nitrogen for the N.lowii to grow. Thus, this relationship is beneficial for both species.
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery, hanging above the fountain
Common name: carrion flower
Native to: tropical and southern Africa
The genus Stapelia consists of 40 species of succulent plants. The hairy, oddly textured and colored appearance of many Stapelia flowers resembles that of rotting meat. This, coupled with their foul odor, has earned members of the Stapelia genus the common name of "carrion flowers". These odors serve to attract various pollinators including blow flies. The flies lay eggs in the center of the Stapelia flower, convinced it is rotting meat that will be a food source for the larvae once they hatch.
Common name: onion leaf Oncidium
Location in Conservatory: orchid case in Aquatics Gallery
Native to: Columbia
This orchid is unique because its leaves are fleshy and erect and taper to a point. The leaves of some Oncidium ceboletta plants have a burgundy tint. Another unique feature are the very small pseudobulbs. Because they grow on trees and can not tap into ground water, epyphyitic orchids like this one usually have thick leaves or large pseudobulbs to store water.
Oncidium ceboletta is one of the oldest known Oncidiums, having been described as far back as 1800. It has hallucinogenic properties similar to peyote.
Common name: Surinam cherry
Location in Conservatory: Lowlands Gallery, south wall
Native to: tropical South America's east coast ranging from Suriname to southern Brazil
The fruit of the Surinam cherry is used as a flavoring and base for jams and jellies. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness. The tree was introduced to Florida for ornamental purposes but is now out of control and listed as an invasive species.
The plant is relatively pest resistant. The leaves are spread on house floors in Brazil, so that when crushed underfoot they exude a spicy, resinous fragrance, which repels flies.
Common name: firecracker bush, trompetilla, hummingbird flower
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery, hanging on the arbor
Native to: Texas, Arizona, and Mexico
Bouvardia ternifolia blooms continuously in the Conservatory. Clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers burst from the tips of its leafy branches. The spectacular red corolla (unit of petals) attracts, and provides nectar for hummingbirds. The Spanish name trompetilla means "little trumpet" and refers to the corolla’s shape.
Location in Conservatory: Lowlands Gallery along the back wall in the orchid display
Native to: wet lowland forests in the tropical Americas
Cattleya are a premier flower in the floral industry and are used by orchid enthusiasts to create hybrids (often with Laelia orchids) and prize plants. Their large, showy flowers often have a pleasant sweet or citrusy fragrance.
An interesting adaptation of Cattleya orchids is that some have a pseudobulb on every leaf to store water and nutrients, which are used in the latent season. In the wet season new leaves grow twice as fast. Many species grow in the trees so they don't get water from the soil and instead depend on humid air.
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery in a pot near the stone table
Native to: endemic to Ecuador, where it is threatened due to habitat distruction
Pearcea hypocyrtiflora is in the Gesneriad family and is related to the African violet. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland and mountain forests. They can be grown in as a houseplant under humid conditions and do well in a terrarium.
Pink and white veins network across the dark green leaves creating the perfect backdrop for the bubble-like, hairy, neon orange flowers. As the flower matures, five tiny pink petals in the center of the flower open to allow the plant's pollinator, a hummingbird, access into the bubble. The brightly colored flower serves to enhance visibility, while the tiny entrance ensures that the bird bill touches the anthers and stigma.
Native to: Moluccas Islands in Indonesia
Location in Conservatory: Potted Plants Gallery, hanging on arbor
The genus Dendrobium is one the largest genus of orchids with over 1,200 known species. And the number grows as more are being discovered. The name is from the Greek dendron "tree" and bios "life"; it means "one who lives on trees".
Dendrobiums are found in virtually every environmental niche throughout its geographical range of tropical Asia. They are found as epiphytes growing high in the rainforest canopies, on old wooden stumps in forest clearings, in trees suspended above riverbanks, and even as lithophytes growing among pebbles and on rocks.
Common name: Starburst Cleridendrum
Native to: Philippines
Location in Conservatory: Lowlands Gallery in the center planting and below the Japanese lantern in the southeast planting bed
Cleridendrum are leafy vines or shrubs, bloom in the winter, and are used as ornamentals. The Conservatory's plant is easy to spot because of the dramatic clusters of long white flowers.
The genus Cleridendrum gets is name as a derivation of Greek words, kleros meaning “by chance”, and dendron, meaning “tree”. This is a reference to the reports of medicinal usefulness throughout eastern medicinal literature (including from India to Thailand to Japan) referring to extracts from the roots and leaves of Cleridendrum in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, asthma, syphilis, cataracts and malaria, among other conditions.
Common name: starfruit
Location in Conservatory: Northwest wall of Lowlands Gallery
Native to: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka
Starfruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually five, but can sometimes vary). In cross-section, the fruit resembles a star. The entire fruit is edible, including the slightly waxy skin. The flesh is crunchy, firm, and extremely juicy. It does not contain fibers and has a texture similar in consistency to that of grapes. They may be used in cooking, and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks.
Like the grapefruit, starfruit is considered to be a potent inhibitor of some enzymes. Thus, the consumption of carambola or its juice in combination with certain medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice has identified a number of common medications affected, including statins, which are commonly used to treat cardiovascular illness.