Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A quiet orchid

I told my mother that she had an orchid in bloom in her shady corner. Really? she said.

Not all orchids are loud and tropical.

The flower stem is no longer than eight inches, the flowers are tiny. The leaves are spotted. It is gorgeous, growing in a low pot in permanent shade. We had no idea what it might be. A forgotten plant.

To the rescue, the Internet. After several false starts I typed in "autumn orchid spotted leaves south africa," and PlantzAfrica popped up at the head of the list: Stenoglottis fimbriata

Fimbriata means fringed in Latin - beautiful word.

It is indigenous to the forests and dense bush of eastern parts of South and southern Africa - summer rainfall areas - but seems to have adapted well to this southern winter rainfall garden, with summer irrigation, just like its compatriot the paintbrush lily, Scadoxus. Its potted companions include indigenous impatiens, streptocarpus, peppermint pelargonium and foreign upstart begonias.



  1. How exquisite. I would love to plant one in a shady spot in my garden. With water restrictions looming it might not be feasible though.

  2. It's a little like our (UK) Common Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, though how anyone could call these pretty little plants 'common' I do not know.

  3. Sorry, Common Spotted Orchid : )

  4. p.s. Have you read The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean? Wonderful book.

  5. Ditto Jen's comment on The Orchid Thief. An Intriguing read, almost mesmerizing. I've shared this lovely post with several gardening friends, Marie.


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