Nature is weird and wonderful, and works in mysterious ways. And orchids? They’re even weirder. They’re one of the largest plant families in the world, and there are up to 30,000 species of orchids! With that kind of diversity, it’s not a stretch to imagine that there are at least a few varieties of the gorgeous flower that a layperson has never even seen.
The Monkey Orchid is probably one of these. The very literally named flower is called thus because, well, it looks like a little monkey face.
The Dracula Simia (translated as “little dragon monkey”), or Monkey Orchid, is native to the forests of Southeastern Ecuador and Peru, and to find it, you’ll probably have to do a fair bit of hiking – the plants thrive in cloud forests between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level.
The “faces” on these unique blooms are formed by a combination of the long petals and the stamens on the flower. This flower species was christened by botanist Carlyle A. Lueren in 1978, in reference to its long, fang-like petals.
They might look like simians, but they definitely don’t smell like it – when bloomed, the Monkey Orchid gives off a pleasant citrusy scent of ripe oranges.
In its natural habitat, this species of orchid is not seasonal, it can flower at any time of the year, with each stem bearing several little flowers that bloom one after the other. The orchid genus Dracula comprises of 118 species of the flower, all of which are native to Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and almost half of the subspecies can be found in Ecuador alone.
While one can most definitely try, they’re not too easy to grow in captivity, as they require a very precise set of environmental conditions. They prefer almost 70%-100% humidity, cooler temperatures, and low light, mimicking their natural cloud forest habitat.
These cute little plants grow only up to 2 feet tall, and if you’re trying to grow them at home, it’s best to pot them in sphagnum moss instead of soil. As earlier mentioned, they’re notoriously difficult for a novice to grow, but the Dracula Simia, along with several other species of Dracula orchid, is a prized addition to any hobbyist orchid grower’s collection! And we don’t blame them, who wouldn’t want to have these adorable flowers dotting their greenhouse?