Dracula – scary beautiful orchid – care

Dracula (Dracula) Is a genus of epiphytic plants from the Orchid family (Orchidaceae), common in the humid forests of Central and South America. The genus includes 123 species. Many species of dracula are grown as flowering greenhouse or houseplants.

Dracula is a terribly beautiful orchid. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Dalton Holland Baptista

The origin of the Dracula orchid

Scientific name translation dracula – “son of the dragon”, “little dragon”, “dragon”. This name is explained by the shape of the flower, which resembles the face of a small dragon.

Specific epithets in the names of many species of this genus are related to the names of monsters, evil spirits, as well as to Count Dracula (chimerasdevil,  fafnir,  Gorgongorgonellanosferatu,  polyphemusvampireVlad the Impaler).

In the Russian-language literature on floriculture, the noun “dracula” in the meaning of “name of the genus of plants” is considered feminine by analogy with the scientific (Latin) name; for example, for a scientific name Beautiful Dracula the Russian name “Dracula is beautiful” is given.

The abbreviation of the generic name in industrial and amateur floriculture – Drac.

Dracula bella. Botanical illustration from the book Florence Woolward: The Genus Masdevallia. 1896Dracula bella. Botanical illustration from the book Florence Woolward: The Genus Masdevallia. 1896. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Marquess of Lothian

Of the 123 species that are now included in the genus Dracula, the first species to be described was Masdevallia chimaera (now – Dracula chimaera): This was done by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1823-1889) from a plant found in March 1870 in the Western Cordillera by orchid collector Benedict Roel. This plant so struck the imagination of botanists that they compared its unusual flower not only with the mythical monster Chimera, but also with the musical works of Beethoven and Chopin.

Chimera combines three animals: it is a three-headed monster spewing fire with the heads of a lion, a goat and a dragon on lion’s maned necks, passing into the body of a goat with a dragon’s tail. It was this threefoldness that gave G. Reichenbach a reason to resort to the image of the Chimera when naming a plant. The main features of the monstrous appearance of the flower are given by three strongly enlarged sepals covered with shaggy thorn-like outgrowths, two greatly reduced eye-shaped petals and a jaw-like lip, the color of just gnawed bone.

WG Smith, who first saw this unusual plant in 1875, wrote literally the following: “There is no one who, seeing for the first time the Chimera Masdevallia flower, would not experience a breathtaking sense of delight and surprise in front of the inner beauty, grotesque and eccentricity of this orchid. Its very long sepals look like the serpentine tails of a terrible Chimera, and the abundant hairs that cover them stand on end around its fierce, flaming maw. Masdevallia Chimera is similar to certain sounds, smells, colors, born from enchanting melodies, complex aromas or paintings. ” Genus Dracula was separated from the Masdevallia clan (Masdevallia) in 1978.

In the pages of The Gardener’s Chronicle, Heinrich Reichenbach wrote: “… it was an unforgettable moment in my orchid life when I first saw this flower… I could not trust my eyes? Am I dreaming? I was happy, because it was a great blessing, that I saw this miracle, which was hidden in solitude for thousands of years. I would hardly believe such a thing from a simple description. So I called it a chimera. “

According to the myth, the three-faced Chimera could only be defeated by the one who owns the winged horse Pegasus, born from the body of the gorgon Medusa killed by Perseus. This hero turned out to be the grandson of Sisyphus Bellerophon. His name, in turn, is also assigned to one of the dracula, it is the dracula Bellerophon (D. bellerophon Luer & Escobar), discovered in the western part of the Colombian Cordilleras in 1978. The appearance is very similar to the Dracula Chimera, but its brownish-fawn flower is covered with yellowish dense pubescence.

The northern border of the range of the genus is Southern Mexico, the southern border of the range is Peru.

In Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru, only a few species are found, while the main diversity of species is observed in Colombia and Ecuador. Often, individual species have a very limited distribution area and are found, for example, in one single valley.

Dracula grow at an altitude of one and a half to two and a half kilometers above sea level on the wooded slopes of the Cordilleras – usually on the trunks of large trees, no higher than three meters above the ground, and sometimes on the ground. They do not tolerate changes in living conditions: if the tree on which the plant was located falls for natural reasons or is cut down, the orchid will quickly die.

The natural conditions in which draculae grow are characterized by high humidity, frequent rains, low light levels and low temperatures.

Dracula polyphemus. Flower structure: spotted hood in the background - fused sepals; lavender veined formation - lip (modified petal); two small wings above - two more petals; the formation located between them - the column (androecium, fused with the gynoecium)Dracula polyphemus. Flower structure: spotted hood in the background – fused sepals; lavender veined formation – lip (modified petal); two small wings above – two more petals; the formation located between them is a column (androecium, fused with gynoecium). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Orchi

Description of Dracula’s orchid

Representatives of this genus are low epiphytic plants with short stems and long, belt-like leaves.

The rhizome is shortened.

Pseudobulbs in orchids from the genus Dracula, unlike most other representatives of the Epidendric subfamily (Epidendroideae) are absent. Leaves can have a spongy structure, in which case they partially function as missing pseudobulbs. The color of the leaves is from light to dark green.

Flowers are sharply zygomorphic; in different species, they differ greatly in shape and color, but they have in common that three sepals are connected at the base in such a way that they form a bowl, while the tips (outgrowths) of the sepals are extended far outward. These outgrowths are often covered with hairs.

Dracula can be pollinated by insects, as well as bats and shrews.

Peduncles in most species are single-flowered, straight or slightly drooping, in some species they are directed downward, penetrating through the aerial roots.

Seeds are small, very numerous, fusiform.

Draculae were popular greenhouse plants in Europe in the late nineteenth century. Their rarity, Gothic shape and high demands on culture made these plants an expensive and valuable purchase.

Growing a Dracula orchid

These plants are amenable to cultivation, but they will not grow in climates that are very different from those of natural habitats. Unsuitable conditions lead to burn spots, dry leaf tips and premature flower fall. The greenhouse must be fairly cold and must be equipped with large fans and air conditioners; the maximum daytime temperature should not exceed 25 ° C.

Lighting: shade, partial shade.

Plants are best grown in wooden baskets or plastic aquatic plant pots. The containers can be lined with a layer of sphagnum and filled with Mexifern fiber and covered with plenty of live sphagnum on top. To keep the moss in good condition, it is important to use only rainwater for irrigation. Young plants can be planted on Mexifern blocks with a small moss backing. Many collectors use dried New Zealand sphagnum.

The average temperature of most species is around 15 ° C. During warmer seasons, temperatures should not rise above 25 ° C.

Relative air humidity – 70-90%.

Dracula "Bat" (Dracula vespertilio)Dracula “Bat” (Dracula vespertilio). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Orchi
Dracula benedictiiDracula benedictii. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Orchi
Dracula chimaeraDracula chimaera. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Orchi


Dracula orchid species

The genus is divided into three subgenera:

  • Dracula subg. Sodiroa – monotypic subgenus with only one species Dracula sodiroi;
  • Dracula subg. Xenosia – monotypic subgenus with only one species Dracula xenos;
  • Dracula subg. Dracula – subgenus, which includes all other species.

Interspecific hybrids

Natural interspecific hybrids of the Dracula genus are known. Some of them:

  • DRACULA X old woman [= Dracula cutis-bufonis × Dracula wallisii];
  • Dracula × radiosyndactyla [= Radiant Dracula × Dracula syndactyla].

Both of these hybrids are found in Colombia.

Intergenic hybrids

There are several known hybrids between species of the genera Dracula and Masdewallia. These hybrids are combined into the hybrid genus Dracuvallia:

  • Dracuvallia Luer (1978) = Dracula Luer (1978) × Masdevallia Ruiz et Pav. (1794)

Diseases and pests

More than 32 species belonging to 4 classes, 7 orders can be attributed to pests of plants belonging to the orchid family. More than 90 fungi, bacteria and viruses are also known to cause orchid diseases: leaf spot, root rot, young shoots, tuberidia, leaves and flowers.

Most often these are: herbivorous mites, aphids, thrips, scale insects, etc. Of the diseases: black, root, brown, fusarium, gray rot, anthracnose, etc.

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Anna Evans

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