Mysta-what? With a name bigger than its tiny white flowers, this mini orchid doesn’t look tough. However, looks can be deceiving. Despite its delicate facade, this species survives attached to thorny Acacia trees in the heat of South Africa’s savannas, where few other orchids can live. It can also handle light winter frosts. This toughness helps to make it one of South Africa’s most common orchids.

Mystacidium flowersMystacidium flower close upMystacidium flowers

Each crystal white Mystacidium flower features a long nectar spur, and emits a sweet jasmine scent from dusk into evening. Yellow pollen masses provide the only spot of color in the middle of each bloom. Flowers can last for weeks over spring or summer.

Mystacidium flower side viewMystacidium flowers side view, showing nectar spursMystacidium flower close up

To pronounce Mystacidium, say “mis-tah-SID-ee-um”. To grow Mystacidiums, give them a warm, muggy summer and a cool, dry winter. During summer, I water mine regularly, but in winter, it’s happy with just a daily misting. They enjoy some morning sun, but need shade for most of the day. Like their Vanda and Angraecum relatives, Mystacidiums prefer to grow mounted, not potted. This also serves to keep their thick roots in view, the easier to enjoy their unusual, linear white spot patterns.

Mystacidium plant with developing budsMystacidium plant showing white spot patterns on rootsMounted Mystacidium plant with developing buds

Besides growing on Acacias and other succulent trees, these orchids can be weeds in South African citrus farms. As air plants, they don’t harm the trees, but masses of mini Mystacidiums can coat orange tree branches and trunks. Citrus farmers may be the only ones who don’t enjoy the sweet scent of these tough little orchids.

Explore posts in the same categories: Dormancy, Fragrant Orchids, Growing, Mini Orchids, Photos, Warm Growers

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7 Comments on “Mystacidium”

  1. Christie Tippett Says:

    Beautiful pictures

  2. Liz Elzas Says:

    Very interestiong article! Love your photos too. You say it’s a mini orchid. How big are the flowers?

  3. Marc Says:

    Hi Liz. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Each flower is about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide. The nectar spurs can be 2.4 inches (6 cm) long.

  4. nancy Says:

    Beautiful!!! I love those charming miniatures. I never heard of this kind before but then again, I’ve never been to S.Africa either. It sounds like you can get free ones at the orange farms there! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for this species. It sounds like an easy grower. Thanks for the post 🙂

  5. Pamela Basso Says:

    Very small! How do those little flowers handle such heat?!

  6. Dylan Corriveau Says:

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog.Thanks Again. Will read on

  7. Alfreda Guers Says:

    Major thankies for the article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.