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Sat Jan 12, 2019, 08:48 AM

Rare Japanese orchid was supposed to be impossible to grow

-- and then it randomly showed up at Longwood Gardens



In the woods of Longwood Gardens lurks a mystery.

The red fruits and yellow-brown flowers of a rare orchid wouldn’t, at first, seem out of place at Longwood Gardens. It is, after all, home to more than 11,000 different kinds of plants.

But this plant in particular had no right to be there.

Cyrtosia septentrionalis is a Japanese orchid that is considered impossible to cultivate. Until its appearance at Longwood, it had never before been seen in the United States.

Cyrtosia relies on a specific parasitic fungi, Armillaria, to grow and live. That relationship, and the complexities that are part of it, makes it impossible to grow in a garden setting or to purchase it from Japanese nurseries, Longwood Gardens notes in its blog entry on the flower.

Unlike most other orchids, Cyrtosia is also reliant on birds and other animals to spread its seeds. The giant fruits it produces are meant specifically to attract fauna. The animals eat the fruits and the orchid’s seeds are distributed through the animal’s bowel movements. Most orchids spread their seeds using the wind, but the seeds of Cyrtosia are too large for that.

That being said, the orchid is thriving and growing at Longwood Gardens, with several plants spotted in a small woodlot. Unfortunately for Longwood Gardens visitors, the Cyrtosia are all located off an access road and are not available for public viewing.


Longwood Blog Post: https://longwoodgardens.org/blog/2019-01-07/phantasm-forest?fbclid=IwAR2-QOmU9jLq7v6AIQsh63TA9M7-2PZTE3oCNl_vfEYGesq3LtUdvDeLv2Q

Blog post has much more detailed information

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Reply Rare Japanese orchid was supposed to be impossible to grow (Original post)
modrepub Jan 12 OP
Laf.La.Dem. Jan 12 #1
woodsprite Jan 12 #2
Pachamama Jan 12 #3

Response to modrepub (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 09:29 AM

1. Thanks for posting!

VERY interesting plant

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Response to modrepub (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 09:51 AM

2. Thanks for posting!

We were just at Longwood the other night. Took many beautiful pics of the plants/flowers, including their orchid room.

Son is heading there today with his girlfriend to “people watch” for a sociology project.

Thanks again!

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Response to modrepub (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 09:52 AM

3. Would love to know how this happened

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