Orchid of the Week: Grammatophyllum speciosum

Last week’s featured orchid is one of the smaller orchid plants found around the world. This week I’ve chosen what is thought to be the biggest type of orchid in the world: Grammatophyllum speciosum. This one has a number of nicknames, including Giant Orchid, Tiger Orchid, Sugar Cane Orchid, and Queen of the Orchids. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a Grammatophyllum speciosum in their orchid collection, and it is no joke. Seriously, this plant is MONSTROUS:

Grammatophyllum speciosum at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Tiger Orchid at the BBG

According to the BBG’s website, their Tiger Orchid specimen weighs 300 pounds. It’s hard to get a sense of this plant’s size just by looking at photos; in person it is just impressive as all hell. The BBG recently had to repot this giant of a plant because its wooden basket had begun to rot from the heat and humidity; their website has an interesting article with lots of photos of the repotting process here. According to the article, it took seven hours (and, judging from the photos, about that many people) to repot this plant!!

Tiger Orchids bloom once every two to four years; the one at the BBG last bloomed in 2008. When the BBG’s specimen does bloom, it is quite an event. Now that your curiousity is piqued, how about we take a look at the Tiger Orchid’s flowers?

Tiger Orchid blooms
Photo credit: Tianyake, Flickr
Grammatophyllum speciosum
Photo credit: BBG.org, photo by Dave Allen.
Grammatophyllum speciosum flower
Photo credit: jamesmissier.blogspot.com

You can clearly see where the Tiger Orchid moniker came from. This plant is pretty awesome, isn’t it?? I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Tiger Orchid blooms in person — I’ve only seen the gigantic plant suspended inside the Aquatic House at the BBG. The next time this baby blooms, I am going to run on over there so I can experience it firsthand!

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