Stiff Upper Lip

The phrase “stiff upper lip” usually describes the resolve of the British people, but it’s also an apt description for this Cyrtochilum. This orchid is an Oncidium relative from high-elevation cloud forests in the South American Andes, and it looks like it has teeth. The white “teeth” are actually part of the flower’s lip. It may appear delicate, but the lip is quite sturdy, and feels stiff to the touch.

Cyrtochilum flower budsCyrtochilum flower opening

The 3 inch (7.6 cm) flowers show off beautiful shades of yellow and purple, and the fascinating 3-D lip really gives the Brits some competition. Dave took photos at a variety of angles, so you can better appreciate the strange flower structure.

Cyrtochilum flowersCyrtochilum flowerCyrtochilum flower side viewCyrtochilum flowers

As proof of its fortitude, in the wild this species can handle freezes down to 25F (-4C.) However, if you have one in your collection, try to avoid letting the plant freeze. It should survive, but it may suffer some damage or not bloom as well. This plant lives outdoors all year here in San Francisco, and I try to keep it on the dry side during its winter dormancy.

Cyrtochilum flower close upCyrtochilum flower close upCyrtochilum flowerCyrtochilum flower

Explore posts in the same categories: Cool Growers, Dormancy, Orchids in the Wild, Photos

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6 Comments on “Stiff Upper Lip”

  1. Joy Blake Says:

    Wow! Those flowers are really stunning. They look quite delicate, so I’ll take your word for it that they’re sturdy. Thanks for the photos.

  2. russ yee Says:

    beautiful pix!!

  3. paul yang Says:

    The shot showing flower unfolding is great.

  4. Adam Cal Says:

    The yellow reminds me of oncidium colors.

  5. nancy Says:

    The “teeth” are wild! Amazing flowers.

  6. GreenThumbGuy Says:

    Fascinating flowers! The shape doesn’t even look real, like its beyond human imagination and only nature could have done it..