Ornithocephalus ciliates

Photographer ©Ron Parsons, grown by Mary Gerritsen

The Orchid Digest Back Cover 86-1

Ornithocephalus ciliatus Lindl., Ann. Nat. Hist. 4: 383 (1840)

 Ornithocephalus ciliatus is a twig epiphyte growing on old citrus trees and shrubs in montane rain forests. As you can imagine, growing on a twig would result in low water and nutrient availability that would limit growth and hence a tiny orchid. Studies have shown that the twig epiphytes have higher growth rates allowing them to reach sexual maturity in less than a year. Survival of the species, perhaps? These twig epiphytes present anatomical and physiological adaptations (deciduous leaves and modified cells in the velamen of the root, among others) that allow them to survive in this stressful environment

It is found in Trinidad, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia between 200 and 2,200 meters (656 and 7,218 feet). The flowers bloom on an erect, 1 1/4″ [3 cm] long inflorescence with several flowers in the fall. The flowers are 1/8 inch (4 mm).

It is a hot to cool growing species best mounted on cork, tree fern, or wood. Shady, humid conditions are required with even,  year-round watering.

Heterotypic Synonyms:


Chase, M. W. 1987. Obligate twig epiphytism in the Oncidiinae and other neotropical orchids.    Selbyana 10: 24–30.

Chase, M. W., L. Hanson, V. A. Albert, W. M. Whitten, and N. H. Williams. 2005. Life, history,      evolution, and genome size in subtribe Oncidiinae (Orchidaceae). Annals of Botany 95:    191–199.

Mondragon, Demetria & Maldonado, Citlalli & Aguilar, Remedios. (2007). Life History and         Demography of a Twig Epiphyte: A Case Study of Erycina crista-galli (Orchidaceae). Selbyana. 28. 137-144. 10.2307/41760304.

Phal, Jay. Internet Orchid Species Encyclopedia (IOSPE). Internet Orchid Species Photo     Encyclopedia: http://www.orchidspecies.com/ornitkrugeeri.htm

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: https://wcsp.science.kew.org/prepareChecklist.do?checklist=selected_families%40%40028280120221944474

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