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Scarlet Orchid Encyclia tampensis

Previously known as:

  • Epidendrum tampense
Phonetic Spelling
en-SIK-lee-uh tam-PEN-sis
Description

Getting its common name from the butterfly-like movement of its flowers in the wind, Butterfly Orchid is an evergreen plant in the orchid family, and it is native to Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas. It is an epiphytic orchid, meaning that it grows on another plant, similar to an air plant.  It can be found on various trees and generally along waterways, swamps and forests. The small pseudobulbs (pod-like structures) are dark green with one or two narrow grass-like leaves that can be up to 12 inches long. There can be up to 45 fragrant flowers that emerge from the leaf axils in shades of yellow, copper, green or bronze with the lower lip being white with purple markings.

These plants do best when grown on a tree or fixed to a wood or cork plank. In its natural environment, it can be found growing on southern live oak, bald cypress, red maple, pop ash, pine and palm trees, with southern live oak being the most likely to host.  As its numbers are not abundant in the wild, it is listed as a regulated plant in Florida, protected by law from being harvested commercially.  They need high humidity and flower best in part shade. When actively growing, water it 2-3 times a week, provide good airflow and allow them to drain quickly. Use a weak fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. They are not hardy in zones 7 and lower.

Pollination is done by bees that are attracted to the labellum i.e. lip that serves as a landing pad as the bee collects the pollen.  As the bees pollinate the flowers, typically for a few hours per day from noon into the afternoon, a sweet odor is emitted.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: If conditions are too wet or air circulation is poor they can be susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#salt tolerant#dappled shade#orchid#long bloom time#pollinator plant#evergreen tree#humidity tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#native#pollinator garden#bees#part shade
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fragrant#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#salt tolerant#dappled shade#orchid#long bloom time#pollinator plant#evergreen tree#humidity tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#native#pollinator garden#bees#part shade
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Encyclia
    Species:
    tampensis
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Tropical specimen plant.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Florida, Bahamas, and Cuba
    Distribution:
    Florida
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees are attracted to the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Fragrance
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Epiphyte
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Cascading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    3-valved oval capsule filled with many tiny seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Typical orchid-shaped flowers are 1.5 inch wide with 5 tepals in shades of yellow, copper, green or bronze with the lower lip being white with purple stripes, blotches or dots. Blooms May through August. Plants can have from 3 to 45 flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Green leaves are linear to lanceolate and up to 12 inches long. There are typically 1 to 3 leaves on the stem. They are evergreen and grow from the pseudobulbs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Children's Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat
    Humidity
    Salt