Orchid of the Week: Sobralia altissima

This morning I mentioned to my boyfriend that I needed to think of an orchid to feature, and he said “how about the world’s tallest orchid?” Brilliant! I Googled it and all signs pointed to the Sobralia altissima, a native Peruvian orchid. “Altissimo” means “highest” in Latin. This giant freestanding plant can grow up to 44 feet tall and has purple blooms that are 6 inches across. According to Wikipedia, this orchid’s common name in Quechua (the native Andean language) is “Inquil” or “Inkill”, meaning “bearer of language.” This is due to the wide lip of the large blooms.

I’m having a really hard time finding decent images of this orchid, so apologies for the less-than-stellar pics. I had to start searching Peruvian websites that I can’t really read in order to dig up a few small, crappy photos:

Photo credit: orchidspecies.com

Photo credit: camaradecomercio.comxa.com
Photo credit: perutourism.com

One thing that came up when I searched “inkill orquídea” was this:

Dr. Marvin Candle de Iniciativa Dharma

Yep, that’s the dude from the Dharma Initiative videos on LOST. Remember the Orchid Station? I guess that’s why he came up in my search. Anyway…back to actual orchids. I wanted to find a photo of the Sobralia altissima in all its “tallest orchid in the world” glory, but I kept coming up short (yep, pun intended). If anyone out there has a better photo of this orchid, I’d love to see it!

Scientific classification of Sobralia altissima:

Family: Orchidaceae

Subfamily: Epidendroideae

Tribe: Epidendrea

Subtribe: Sobraliinae

Genus: Sobralia

Johnny, this one’s for you.  🙂

Have a great long weekend, everyone!

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