Dracula - Scary Beautiful Orchid
Dracula (Dracula) - a genus of epiphytic plants from the Orchidaceae family (Orchidaceae), common in the humid forests of Central and South America. The genus has 123 species. Many species of dracula are grown as flowering greenhouse or indoor plants.
Origin of Dracula Orchid
Scientific name translationdracula - “son of a dragon”, “little dragon”, “dragon”. This name is explained by the shape of the flower, resembling the face of a small dragon.
Species 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 (chimaera, diabola, fafnir, gorgona, gorgonella, nosferatu, polyphemus, vampira, vlad-tepes).
In the Russian-language literature on floriculture, the noun “dracula” in the meaning “name of the genus of plants” is considered to be feminine by analogy with the scientific (Latin) name; for example for a scientific nameDracula bella The Russian name "Beautiful Dracula" is given.
The abbreviation of the generic name in industrial and amateur floriculture isDrac.
Of the 123 species that are now included in the genus Dracula, the species was first describedMasdevallia chimaera (now -Dracula chimaera): this was done by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1823–1889) on the basis of a plant found in March 1870 in the Western Cordillera by orchid collector Benedict Roel. This plant so struck the imagination of nerds that they compared its unusual flower, not only with the mythical monster Chimera, but also with the musical works of Beethoven and Chopin.
The chimera combines three animals: it is a three-headed monster that spews flames with the heads of a lion, goat and dragon on the lion's maned necks, turning into the body of a goat with a dragon tail. It was this triple that gave G. Reichenbach an occasion to resort to the image of the Chimera in the name of the plant. The main features of the monstrous appearance of the flower are given by three strongly enlarged, covered with shaggy, spike-like outgrowths of the sepals, two greatly reduced eye-shaped petals and a jaw-like lip of the color of freshly gnawed bone.
The first to see this unusual plant in 1875, V. G. Smith wrote literally the following: “There is no one who, having first seen the flower of Chimera's masdevallia, would not experience a thrilling sense of delight and surprise before the inner beauty, grotesque and eccentricity of this orchid. Her very long sepals have the appearance of the serpentine tails of the terrible Chimera, and the plentiful hairs covering them stand on end around her fierce, flaming mouth. Masdevallia Chimera is like certain sounds, smells, colors born from enchanting melodies, complex aromas or picturesque paintings. ” KindDracula was isolated from the genus Masdevallia (Masdevallia) in 1978.
On 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 that has been hiding alone for thousands of years. I would hardly have believed such a thing from a simple description. So I called her a chimera. ”
According to the myth, only the one with the winged horse Pegasus born from the body of the gorgon Medusa killed by Perseus could defeat the three-faced Chimera. This hero turned out to be the grandson of Sisyphus Bellerophon. His name, in turn, is also assigned to one of the draculas, this is Dracula Bellerophon (D. bellerophon Luer & Escobar), discovered in the western part of the Colombian Cordillera in 1978. The appearance is very similar to Dracula Chimera, but its flower is brownish-pale in color, covered with a yellowish thick pubescence.
The northern boundary of the range of the genus is Southern Mexico, the southern boundary of the range of distribution is Peru.
In Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru, only certain species are found, while the main variety of species is observed in Colombia and Ecuador. Often, individual species have a very limited distribution zone and are found, for example, in a 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 Cordillera - usually on the trunks of large trees, not higher than three meters from the ground, and sometimes on the ground. They do not tolerate changes in the conditions of existence: 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 draculas grow are characterized by high humidity, frequent rains, low light levels and low temperatures.
Description of Dracula Orchid
Representatives of this genus are low epiphytic plants with short stems and long tapeworm leaves.The rhizome is shortened.
Pseudobulbs in orchids from the Dracula genus, unlike most other representatives of the Epidendrova subfamily (Epidendroideae) are absent. The leaves may have a spongy structure, in which case they partially fulfill the functions of the missing pseudobulbs. The color of leaves is from light to dark green.
The flowers are sharply zygomorphic; in different species, they differ greatly in shape and color, but it is common for them that the 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 aerial roots.
The seeds are small, very numerous, fusiform.
Dracula were a popular greenhouse in Europe in the late nineteenth century. Their rarity, Gothic form and high culture requirements made these plants an expensive and valuable acquisition.
Growing Dracula Orchid
These plants are cultivable, but they will not grow in a climate that is very different from the climate of natural habitats. Unsuitable conditions lead to burn spots, drying out of the tips of the leaves and premature decay of the flowers. The greenhouse should be quite cold, it must be equipped with large fans and air conditioners; maximum daily temperature should not exceed 25 ° C.
Lighting: shadow, partial shade.
Plants are best grown in wooden baskets or plastic pots for aquatic plants. The containers can be laid out with a sphagnum layer and filled with Mexifern fiber, and covered with a large amount of live sphagnum on top. To keep the moss in good condition, it is important to take only rainwater for irrigation. Young plants can be planted on Mexifern’s blocks with a small moss pad. Many collectors use dried New Zealand sphagnum.
The average temperature of most species is around 15 ° C. During the warmer months, the temperature should not rise above 25 ° C.
Relative humidity is 70–90%.
Types of Dracula Orchid
The genus is divided into three subgenus:
- Dracula subg.Sodiroa - monotypic subgenus with a single speciesDracula sodiroi;
- Dracula subg.Xenosia - monotypic subgenus with a single speciesDracula xenos;
- Dracula subg.Dracula - a subgenus, which includes all other species.
Natural interspecific hybrids of the Dracula genus are known. Some of them:
- Dracula × anicula [= Dracula cutis-bufonis × Dracula wallisii];
- Dracula × radiosyndactyla [= Dracula radiosa × Dracula syndactyla].
Both of these hybrids are found in Colombia.
Several hybrids between species of the genera Dracula and Masdevallia are known. These hybrids are combined in the hybrid genus Draculwallia:
- Dracuvallia Luer (1978) = Dracula Luer (1978) × Masdevallia Ruiz et Pav. (1794)
Diseases and Pests
The pests of plants belonging to the orchid family include more than 32 species belonging to 4 classes, 7 orders. Also known are more than 90 fungi, bacteria and viruses that cause orchid diseases: leaf spotting, root rot, young shoots, tuberidia, leaves and flowers.
Most often these are: herbivorous mites, aphids, thrips, scabies, etc. Of the diseases: black, root, brown, fusarium, gray rot, anthracnose, etc.