Gongora truncata

The following article was written for the Orchid Species Bulletin published by the Orchid Species Society, which is based in Brisbane, Queensland in December 2010.
Bear in mind that any cultivation notes refer to the subtropical conditions of Southern Queensland, Australia.

Gongora truncata Lindl. is a variable and often seen species in cultivation. John Lindley described it in the Botanical Register in 1843. The specific epithet comes from the Latin truncatus (truncate) for the lip, which looks to have been cut straight across.

Gga. truncata is an epiphytic plant, which has clustered ovoid to oblong-ovoid, pseudobulbs that are 4.5-8 cm high and 3-3.5 cm diameter. The olive-green pseudobulbs are only slightly ribbed with rounded rather than angular ridges. At the apex of each pseudobulb are two, rarely three, pale green leaves. The pleated leaves are up to 22-45 cm long and 4.5-8 cm broad.

Pendulous lateral inflorescences are produced from the base of the recently matured pseudobulbs. The racemes of Gga. truncata are up to 30-60 cm long and carry 10-20 flowers that are well spaced along the rachis. The flowers are 3.5-4 cm across and are strongly sweetly fragrant during the day. All the blooms generally open simultaneously and last for about 14 days.

The flower of Gga. truncata has a white to beige or flesh-coloured dorsal sepal with irregular dark red to purple-brown speckles. Its lateral sepals are white with the lower half speckled dark red to purple-brown. Pure white with yellow hypochile folds, the waxy lip may be uniformly pure light yellow. Sometimes the lip may be obscurely marked with purple-brown. The petals and column have a light base colour that is finely speckled dark red.

A species of low altitudes between 150-950 m elevation, Gga. truncata is distributed in Central America from Mexico (Vera Cruz, Chiapas), Belize and Honduras. In Belize it grows in moist broad-leaved forest. Our cold Brisbane winters will cause black spotting on the leaves of this species. This does not seem to affect the general health of the plant, however the appearance of the leaves is unsightly.

I would recommend heated conditions or a minimum of 15oC. Otherwise Gga. truncata seems to grow well in pots or baskets using a well-drained, yet moisture retentive medium. Provide it with 70-80% shade, plenty of air circulation and high humidity during the warmer months. In addition, plenty of water and fertiliser can be given to produce large pseudobulbs. Stop fertilising as the weather cools in autumn and reduce watering. Ensure that the leaves are dry at night in winter.

« »