Orchids are one of the largest plant families in the world, and there are close to 30,000 species, so is it really surprising that one of them actually has the face of a monkey?
Flora and fauna are vast and it takes a lot to study and understand them. Orchids are even more mysterious when it comes to plant diversity. They are one of the largest plant families in the world, and there are close to 30,000 species of orchids! I mean, with that kind of diversity, it's safe to say that there could be varieties of orchids that people could have never come across in their life. The Monkey Orchid surely is one such variety!
The name originates for the flower, well, because it quite literally looks like a little monkey face. The Dracula Simia (translated as "little dragon monkey"), or Monkey Orchid, is native to the forests of Southeastern Ecuador and Peru. If you've got plans to go looking for it, fair warning, you'll have to go prepared to do a little bit of hiking — the plants thrive in cloud forests between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level.
The "faces" on these unique blooms are formed via a combination of the long petals and the stamens on the flower. These flower species were given this unique name by botanist Carlyle A. Lueren in 1978, in reference to its long, fang-like petals. Although these orchids might look like simians, they definitely don't smell like it when bloomed. The Monkey Orchid gives off a pleasant citrusy scent of ripe oranges.
When they grow in their natural habitat, this species of orchid is not seasonal, it can flower at any time of the year, with each stem bearing several little flowers that bloom one after the other. The orchid genus Dracula comprises of 118 species of the flower, all of which are native to Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and almost half of the subspecies can be found in Ecuador alone.
While one can most definitely try, they're not too easy to grow in captivity, as they require a very precise set of environmental conditions. They prefer almost 70%-100% humidity, cooler temperatures, and low light, simulating their natural cloud forest habitat. These cute-as-hell monkey-faced plants only grow up to 2 feet tall, and if you're trying to grow them at home, it's best to pot them in sphagnum moss instead of soil.
While they're quite difficult for a novice to grow, but the Dracula Simia, along with several other species of Dracula orchid, is a prized addition to any hobbyist orchid grower's collection! And, honestly we don't blame them, it sure is a sight to behold to see these monkey faces pop up in the garden when they're in full bloom. It's like a reward to yourself for painstakingly ensuring that you give the orchid all the care and attention it needs to bloom!