Cottonia peduncularis

Species of the Month – December 2015

Cottonia peduncularis (Lindl.) Rchb.f.
syn Cottonia macrostachya Wight, Vanda peduncularis Lindl.

The genus Cottonia is named after Frederic Conyers Cotton, a British army officer of Madras engineers. Cottonia peduncularis is the only species described in this genus. The distribution of this species is recorded to be Southwestern India and Sri Lanka.

Cottonia plant
Plant with flowering inflorescence

This monopodial epiphyte usually starts flowering in the months of March-May. Flowers open one by one and usually it takes couple of weeks for one inflorescence to finish flowering. This species is usually found in forests in mid to low elevation, growing on trees typically under bright Sun.

The lip or labellum appears bee-like. This is perhaps to attract the potential pollinators. The inflorescence is noticed to be wiry and growing quite long. Sometimes reaching to length of 3-4 feet. Presence this long inflorescence helps in identifying this species even when it is not in flower. The inflorescence is often branched.

The flower itself is about over an inch in size with reddish brown colour of the flower being prominent. The flowers are few on the inflorescence.

Cottonia flower
Flower closeup

This species is typically vandaceous in nature, with coriaceous leaves which are 10-15cm long and 1.5cm wide. Plant often noticed growing in moderate sized clumps and scrambling on the tree trunks.
Perhaps this might be one of the easy plants to grow. However due to its small sized flower and not very attractive foliage it might not be popular in cultivation.

1. Introduction to orchids – Abraham and Vatsala
2. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Illustrated Dictionary of Orchid Genera

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