Catasetums belong to a group of orchids that are both beautiful and intriguing. The fascinating thing about them is that each plant can produce either male or female flowers, or sometimes both. Talk about confusion of genders!

Male catasetum flowers are larger and are usually produced when light levels are lower while female flowers are smaller, less showy and tend to occur when light levels are high.

Catasetums rely on specific insects, usually a bee to transfer the pollen from a male flower to a female flower of another plant. The insect trips a trigger on the male flower, firing pollen onto its body. The unsuspecting host then carries it to a female flower and if all goes well, floral fireworks will unfold.

I don’t grow Catasetums and their related genera for the simple reason that they are seasonal and require a rest period. During this time, they lose all their leaves and watering should be withheld. Ironically, this coincides with the monsoon season here, so, unless I can move everything into my porch, I’ll save Catasetum growing for another time.

Here are a couple of beautiful Catasetums from orchid shows. Sadly, I don’t have their IDs.

Greenish white Catasetum

 

Frills!

 

A Catasetum hybrid