Peristeria sp.

The Genus Peristeria


Edited 22 May 2007
© Nina Rach

This name for this genus was taken from the Greek word peristerion, meaning "little dove" or pigeon. There are perhaps eleven species, all native to tropical America, from Central America and the West Indies, through South America to Brazil. The type species is Peristeria elata, described by Hooker in Botanical Magazine t. 3116 (1831); abbreviated Prstra.

Culture: Grows as an epiphyte in open, grassy areas of forest from 600-1200 meters. Cultivate under moist intermediate conditions.
Rand (1876), wrote: "These plants should be grown in pots in a strong compost of loam, peat, and leaf mould. During their season of growth they should have abundance of water, but in the resting season should be allowed to become almost dry. They need a long rest; the species last described [Peristeria stapeloides] needs less water than the others."

In the Helmos Mountains of Greece is a small village named "Peristeria." This name was also given to a large stratovolcano in the Santorini Volcanic Complex.

The species:
Peristeria aspersa Rolfe, Lindenia, vi. (1890) 57 t. 267. Found in hot, humid lowlands [Brazil (Amazonas), Venezuela, Colombia] - epiphytic

* Peristeria barkeri Bateman, Orch. Mex. & Guat. t. 8 = Acineta barkeri

Peristeria cerina Lindley, Bot. Reg. t. 1953. -- Found in hot, humid lowlands [Brazil (Pará), Trinidad, Venezuela] - plants are epiphytic, with 7-9cm-high flattened pseudobulbs, oblong-lanceolate plicate leaves 25-30 x 4-5.5cm, and pendant 15cm inflorescence with 4-12 yellow flowers, juniper fragrance (spring-blooming).
Rand (1876) wrote: "Flowers dull yellow, with a strong odor of juniper; produced in bunches, close to the bulb, in June and July."

Peristeria cochlearis Garay, Orquideologia, 7(4): 199, fig. 75 (1972). [Panama, Colombia] -- collected by G. Escobar in Chocó, Colombia.

Peristeria elata Hooker, Bot. Mag. t. 3116. (1831). [Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador] - This species is the National flower of Panama and it's on CITES Appendix 1. It is known as the "Dove" or "Holy Ghost" Orchid. The white, cupped flowers are borne on an erect spike. Rand (1876) wrote: "Flowers wax-white with lilac blotches at the base of the lip, and of an exquisite fragrance. They are produced on long stalks from the base of the pseudo-bulbs. The interior of the flower somewhat resembles a dove with outspread wings."
Successful propagation efforts at RBG Kew. Photo; Photo of clone 'Yahiro'

Peristeria ephippium Reichb.f., Gard. Chron. (1883) II. 198.

* Peristeria fuscata Hort. ex Lindl., in Gard. Chron. (1856) 388 = Lycomormium squalidum

Peristeria graveolens Hort., in Gard. Chron. (1882) II. 151.

Peristeria guttata Knowl. & Westc., Flor. Cab. ii. (1838) 99. t. 70. [Fr. Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil]
Rand (1876) wrote: "Flowers yellow, plentifully marked with reddish brown, produced in short bunches in September." [plant from Rio de Janiero]
See photos by Jean-Marie Vandewinden, Belgium: plant and flowers, and flower closeup.

Peristeria guttata var. violacea Josst, Beschr. Cult. Orchid. 334. 1851.

* Peristeria humboldtii Lindl., Bot. Reg. (1843) t. 18 = Acineta Humboldtii

Peristeria humboldtii var. fulva Hook., in: Curtis Bot. Mag. 71: tab. 4156. 1845. [Venezuela]

Peristeria laeta Rchb.f., Gard. Chron. ser. 3, 2: 616. 1887.

Peristeria lentiginosa Lodd. Cat. ex W. Baxt., in Loud. Hort. Brit Suppl. iii. 604 = Prstra. pendula?

Peristeria leucoxantha Garay, in Arquiv. Jard. Bot. Rio de Janeiro, xiii. 46, tab. 3 (1954). Based on a Colombian illustation; collected in Cauca, Colombia.

Peristeria lindenii Rolfe, Lindenia, vii. (1891) 83 t. 328; et in: Illustr. Hortic. xxxix. (1892) 121. [Ecuador] - This medium sized species bears clusters of up to 8 large flowers on pendulous inflorescences. The fleshy blossoms are light green heavily suffused with dull purple and heavily spotted with dark purple. Grows warm to intermediate.

Peristeria longiscapa Rich. & Gal., in: Ann. Sc. Nat. Ser. III. iii. (1845) 25 = Lacaena bicolor.

Peristeria maculata Hort. ex Loud., Encyc. Pl. Suppl. ii. 1474. = pendula

Peristeria pendula Hooker, Bot. Mag. t. 3479. Found in hot, humid lowlands [Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Trinidad, Surinam, Guyanas, Peru, Brazil (Amazonas, Pará)]. Syn: Peristeria maculata Hort. ex Lindley. Photo
Rand (1876) wrote: "Flowers greenish white outside, and delicate blue inside, marked with purple, the lip dull white marked with purple; slightly fragrant."

Peristeria rossiana Reichb.f., in: Gard. Chron. (1889) i. 8.

Peristeria selligera Reichb.f., Gard. Chron. ser. 3, 2: 272. 1887. [Guyana].

Peristeria serroniana (Barbosa Rodrigues) Garay, Arquiv. Jard. Bot. Rio de Janeiro, xiii. 47 (1954). = Lycomormium serronianum Barbosa Rodrigues. -- Found in hot, humid lowlands [Brazil (Pará)].

Peristeria stapelioides Loud., Hort. Brit. Suppl. iii. 604. = Zygopetalum stapelioides?
Rand (1876) wrote: "Flowers pale, yellowish-brown, covered with blotches of dark brown; very fragrant."

Peristeria violacea (Josst) Foldats, Acta Bot. Venez. iii. 394 (1968). P. guttata var. violacea. Illus.

AOS Awards:


Links to online information about Peristeria:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Rand (1876) Orchid Culture--Link to this book at the Digital Orchid Library,
Peristeria on pp. 363-364: Peristeria elata, cerina, guttata, pendula, stapeliodes.

Peristeria elata (nice page by Bruce C. Ruiz)

Peristeria elata - Ghost Orchid by Sandi Trudeau

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador (CVPE)

Manual de la Flora de Costa Rica [S. suavis]

Peruvian Orchids by Carlos Hajek

OrchidWeb Culture info


Paul Allen 1949. Flora of Panama.

Oakes Ames and Donovan Stewart Correll 1985. Orchids of Guatemala and Belize. Dover Publications, Inc., New York. 779p.

Helmut Bechtel, Phillip Cribb, Edmund Launert 1992. The Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species [Third Edition]. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 585p.

Rafael Lucas Rodriguez Caballero, Dora Emilia Mora, Maria Eugenia Barahona, Norris H. Williams 1986. Generos de Orquideas de Costa Rica. Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica. [pp. 234-235, line drawing and watercolor of P. elata].

Calaway Dodson, and P. de Dodson. 1984. Orchids of Ecuador. Fasc. 10, plates 901-1000. Icones Plantarum Tropicarum. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, FL 33577.

Robert L. Dressler 1993. Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca. 374p.

Ernesto Foldats (Dec. 1968) "Contribucion de la Orquidioflora de Venezuela," in Acta Botanica Venezuelica v.3: 305-426. [Peristeria, Sievekingia, et al.]

Ernesto Foldats (1969-197-) "Orchidaceae," vol. XV de la Flora de Venezuela, __ Parte, pp. __. Caracas: Instituto Botanico, Ministerio de Agricultura y Cria.

Alex Hawkes [1965] 1987. Encyclopaedia of Cultivated Orchids. Faber and Faber, London.

Jim and Barbara McQueen 1993. Orchids of Brazil. The Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, Australia. 200p.

Luis Carlos Nepomuceno, Wolmar da Silva Cevidanes, Euzamar Cardoso da Silveira Lima, and Jair Pereira da Silva (1996) Orquideas de Carajas / Orchids from Carajas. Rio de Janeiro: Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, 60p. [Peristeria aspersa]

G.F.J. Pabst and F. Dungs 1977. Orchidaceae Brasilienses. Brucke-Verlag Kurt Schmersow, 3200 Hildesheim.

Edward Sprague Rand (1876) Orchid Culture. New York: The Rural Publishing. [Orchids. A Description of the Species and Varieties Grown at Glen Ridge... A Complete Manual of Orchid Culture].
Link to this book at the Digital Orchid Library,
Peristeria on pp. 363-364: Peristeria elata, cerina, guttata, pendula, stapeliodes.

Richard Evans Schultes 1960. Native Orchids of Trindad and Tobago. Pergamon Pres Inc., Oxford. 275p.

Charles Schweinfurth (1958-1961) Orchids of Peru. Fieldiana: Botany 30: 1-531. Published in a supplement of four volumes.
---- (1960) "Orchidaceae, Orchids of Peru,"" in: Fieldiana, Botany 30(3): 533--786 [Lueddemannia; Lycomormium; Sievekingia; Peristeria; Houlletia; Polycycnis; Gongora; Stanhopea pp 606-612: Stanhopea anfracta (as wardii), connata, graveolens, Haseloviana, Moliana, peruviana (as wardii), Randii, tricornis, Wardii]

Charles Schweinfurth (April 1967) "Orchidaceae of the Guyana Highland," in: Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 14(3):69-214. [pp. 171-175: Acineta alticola; Peristeria; Houlletia; Paphinia; Polycycnis; Stanhopea grandiflora, Randii; Gongora atropurpurea, maculata]

Tom Sheehan & Marian Sheehan (Dec. 1969). "Orchid Genera, Illustrated XIII -- Peristeria," in: Amer. Orch. Soc. Bull. 38(12): 1070-1071.

Norris H. Williams (1982) "The biology of orchids and euglossine bees," in: J. Arditti [ed.], Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspectives, II, pp. 119-171. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. [Acineta; Cirrhaea; Gongora; Houlletia; Lacaena; Peristeria; Polycycnis; Schlimia; Sievekingia; Stanhopea annulata, candida, cirrhata, connata, costaricensis, ecornuta, embreei, florida, frymirei, gibbosa, grandiflora, impressa, jenishiana, oculata, reichenbachiana, saccata, tigrina, tricornis, wardii, warscewicziana]

W. Mark Whitten, Norris H. Williams, and Mark W. Chase 2000. "Subtribal and Generic Relationships of Maxillarieae (Orchidaceae) with Emphasis on Stanhopeinae: Combined Molecular Evidence," in: American Jour. of Botany 87(12): 1842-1856. Article in .pdf format

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