Octopus orchid in bloom

I purchased an octopus orchid (labeled Encyclia cochleata, but actually Anacheilium cochleata) on eBay back in January.  At the time, the plant had a bloom spike.  However, the travel was too taxing on the plant and the spike quickly withered, so I didn’t get to see the weird little blooms.

Anacheilium cochleata bud
Anacheilium cochleata shortly after I noticed the bloom spike for the first time.

However, the seller did mention that this orchid blooms on each new growth (pseudobulb).  What I didn’t notice was that the largest growth on my plant was actually the “new” growth that hadn’t yet bloomed.  When a newer growth started recently I got excited, thinking that a couple months from now, it might start to bloom.  But then shortly thereafter I noticed there was a bloom spike growing out of that larger pseudobulb!

Anacheilium cochleata flower almost open
Anacheilium cochleata flower almost open

Doesn’t this orchid have the coolest flowers?

First Anacheilium cochleata flower
First Anacheilium cochleata flower

I was operating under the assumption that the genus name Encyclia was correct for this plant, but I was surprised that the bloom shape looks so different from the other Encyclias. Then I found out that this and a couple of other plants have been tossed around among a couple of different genera over the years – including Prosthechea, Encyclia, and Anacheilium. For now, the taxonomists seem to have settled on the last one. Many people in the orchid world just refer to this plant by it’s species name (cochleata), since that is the only part of the name that has stayed consistent.

Anacheilium cochleata buds and back side of bloom
Anacheilium cochleata buds and back side of bloom

There are a total of 5 buds on my orchid right now, so hopefully I will have a little “school” of octupi soon. I don’t know if “school” is really the right word. There might not be a correct word for a group of octopus, since I don’t think they are social creatures, by nature.

One reason the blooms of this orchid look different from many Encyclias is that they are resupinate, which means they are upside down from the normal orientation. Regardless of whether this is an Encyclia or not, or has the same orientation of normal Encyclias, I seem to be drawn to plants which have had the name Encyclia attached at some point or another.  I think one thing that attracts me to many Encyclias is the color combinations in the blooms.  Many of them are kind of a brown/mauve background, sometimes with a splash of color, sometimes not.  Some of them almost look like dirt.  Sounds pretty cool, huh?  A flower that is the color of dirt.  Anyway, I like them.  Check out these Encyclias!

I have one true Encyclia in my collection – Encyclia polybulbon.  It is a mounted specimen that has neat, yellow brown blooms.  One really nice thing about Encyclias for me is that they are mostly small, so I can have quite a few of them without taking up too much space.  Some people would consider their small blooms to be a downside, but I like their size – and their dirt brown blooms.

8 thoughts on “Octopus orchid in bloom”

  1. I have never seen one. They are quite unique, too. Looking forward to a photo of all of the blooms together.

  2. I’ve had an octopus orchid for a year now and it hasn’t bloomed. What do you do to get them to spike? Is the spike the tiny lead between the first two? All of my bulbs have one but its so tiny :(

  3. Jamie-
    I haven’t done anything particularly special to induce the spike. I was told that this orchid will continuously bloom on each new growth – or that it can, at least. The spike emerges from the top of the pseudobulb, between the pair of leaves, not from the lead between the pseudobulbs. I was once told that if you have an orchid which seems to be happy, but is not blooming, you might try more light. How much light is your orchid in?

  4. Thanks for your response! Wow! I was nervous about pestering you on your pretty forum. My orchid is in a window but not with direct sunlight. I’ll try moving oty to a window that does get direct sunlight. Do you fertilize?

  5. You have just inspired me to re-collect orchids. Mom had a vast collection before she got sick and went on to undergo a kidney transplant. It has been 15 years since her operation, I think I should start collecting orchids for her.

  6. Brian- As I’m sure you know, orchids are very addicting. There are so many wonderful varieties and it is easy to find a niche that matches your tastes. What kind of orchids do you like best?

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