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.
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!
Doesn’t this orchid have the coolest flowers?
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.
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.