Saturday, July 7, 2012

Octopus Orchid And The Orchid House

One of the hidden gems here at Kona Kai is the Orchid House, for which Ronnie (Joe's wife) has been collecting orchids for many years. We currently have about 250 orchids in the house and it's fun to visit because you never know what will be blooming next and there's almost always something new to see from week to week.

Follow the pink brick road (in my best munchkin voice), not to find a wizard...

...but to find Kona Kai's "Emerald City" in the orchid house, the way to which is quite free of flying monkeys and wicked witches, I assure you.

Definitely nothing like Kansas and fortunately the flowers don't make you fall asleep.

This past week, we had a special surprise in the Orchid House with the native octopus orchid (Prosthechea cochleata) coming into bloom. The flower gets its name from its thin tentacle-like petals and its upside-down orientation. Whereas most orchids have their labellum (the highly modified "lip" petal) on the bottom of the flower, the octopus orchid has it on the top and it happens to resemble an octopus head.

Octopus orchid in the Orchid House.

I had never seen anything like it and the resemblance is so striking, I actually thought the plant had bloomed live octopuses until Veronika informed me otherwise.

It's a great specimen in our collection since we are so close to the ocean; if you're lucky you might see both the orchid and the cephalopod equivalent while on a snorkel or dive trip during your stay here!

Mucilage extracted from the pseudobulbs (the enlarged storage sections of the stems) of this orchid have been used as a natural adhesive, so if you're prone to breaking things, you might consider keeping a few of these around. The people of Belize must really enjoy this bloom because the octopus orchid is their national flower...either that or they break lots of things.

The octopus orchid is only one of many beautiful blooms to see in the orchid house, so be sure to check it out during your next stay either on your own or on a tour with me! Here are a few other orchids I found in bloom today for you to enjoy:









Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

2 comments:

  1. WOW, what an incredible collection you have there! I have a handful of orchids from Hawaii and a few from Maui...yes I am living "Hawaii style" vicariously through my orchids, lol, j/k. It's amazing how similar Florida looks to Hawaii in your pics. Thanks for sharing your spectacular display Rick! Happy Hawaiian Gardening!

    Best wishes,
    Sheri

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    1. Thanks for the complimentary comment Sheri - Yes, the Gardens (and especially the Orchid House) is a very tropical place, and a number of our visitors who have been to Hawaii recognize more than a few plants from their travels there. If you're ever down in the Keys, do stop by for a tour!

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