Stanhopea cirrhata

Lindley 1850

Native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Pacific coast of Panama

Edited 3 January 2010

Stanhopea cirrhata by Dr. Guenter Gerlach

Originally published in the Journal of the Horticultural Society v. (1850) 37.

Epiphytic, with waxy, pendent flowers. This yellow to salmon-colored species was named for the two hairs which curve upward from the apical wingtips of the distinctly green column. These can be seen clearly in the photo at left, provided by Dr. Guenter Gerlach, Munich Botanic Garden (Botanischer Garten Muenchen).

Stanhopea cirrhata is one of the "primitive" stanhopea species, all of which are without horns arising from the mesochile (central section of the lip). The absence of horns leaves the flower accessible to a variety of pollinating euglossine bees, with the possibility of natural hybrids. However, no hybrids have been identified to date.


This species is native to hot, humid, lowland forests, growing close to water, below 3000 ft. The flowers are sweetly fragrant, and like other primitive stanhopea species, they are borne in pairs.


Stanhopea cirrhata is scented like Vicks (1,8-cineole), one of the eleven major compounds found in orchids, discussed in an article in the AOS Bulletin, November 1986. The fragrance is produced in the hypochile (base part of the lip) and attracts male Euglossine bees.


The image at right, with a close-up of the structure of the lip of Stanhopea cirrhata, was taken by Philip Greenspun in Costa Rica.
Stanhopea cirrhata by Philip Greenspun
Note the deep color of the lip and the greenish column.

Web References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Webpage on the Primitive Stanhopeas, by Nina Rach.

Stanhopea cirrhata being grown at Matthaei Botanical Garden, Univ. of Michigan

Stanhopea cirrhata, as pictured on the OASIS website

Flora Mesoamericana List, Searchable Index from the Tropicos Database at [Stanhopea cirrhata, costaricensis, ecornuta, gibbosa, wardii, warscewicziana]

Collection data from the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica
"Epiphyte growing at 6 m [above sea level], Flowers hanging below the root mass, bracts pale yellow; flowers yellow and salmon, with dark purple at the center. Uncommon."

Printed References:
Stan. cirrhata photo by Nina Rach
Die Orchidee (1981) Stanhopea cirrhata vol. 32, no. 3.

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp, 240 illustrations. [Stanhopea oculata; S. panamensis; S. warscewicziana; S. wardii; S. costaricensis; S. gibbosa; S. cirrhata; S. avicula; S. ecornuta; S. pulla]

Fritz Hamer (24 April 1990) "Orchids of Central America, An Illustrated Field Guide (M-Z)," in: Selbyana 11: Supp. 423-860. [Stanhopea cirrhata, S. costaricensis, S. ecornuta, S. gibbosa, S. graveolens, S. inodora, S. oculata, S. ruckeri, S. saccata, S. wardii]

Clarence K.L. Horich (May-June 1974) 'The Costa Rican Stanhopea Species,' in: Orchid Digest 38(3): 108. [includes Stanhopea cirrhata, costaricensis, ecornuta, x fowlieana, gibbosa, pulla, wardii, warscewiczii]

Rudolf Jenny (Dec. 2003) "The Genus Stanhopea. Part 1: S. anfracta to S. napoensis," in: Caesiana no. 21, Supplement. 200 color photos, 160 p., Italian/English, covers 32 species.

John Lindley (1850) "Stanhopea cirrhata," in: Journal of the Horticultural Society of London 5:37 [type publication]

Mariano Ospina H. and Robert L. Dressler (1974) Orquideas de las Americas. Bogota: Litografia Arco, 496p. [Stanhopea cirrhata (Fig. 163), connata, costarricensis (costaricensis), ecornuta, grandiflora, insignis, oculata, platyceras (Fig. 164), reichenbachiana, saccata, schuttleworthii (shuttleworthii), tigrina, wardii]

Franco Pupulin (Mayo 2001) "Addenda Orchidaceis Quepoanis," in: Lankesteriana 1:128; 28 pp. [description p. 23, line drawing p. 24] Lankesteriana article .pdf

Rafael Lucas Rodriguez (Caballero), Dora Emilia Mora, Maria Eugenia Barahona and Norris H. Williams (1986) Generos de Orquideas de Costa Rica. San Jose: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 334 pp. [text and full-page watercolor paintings of Stan. cirrhata Lindl. and Stan. wardii , pp. 240-243]. Dr. Rafael Lucas Rodríguez Caballero is a professor of biology at the University of Costa Rica and created the beautiful watercolor paintings in this book. Available in both hard and softcover. Recommended.

Louis O. Williams and Paul H. Allen (1980) Orchids of Panama. Missouri Botanical Garden, 616 pp. (590 pages for original, 1946-1949). "A facsimile of the Orchidaceae, Flora of Panama, which originally appeared in four separate issues of the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden from 1946 to 1949. Contains an updated checklist, about 800 species, by R. L. Dressler." [Stan. cirrhata, costaricensis, ecornuta, graveolens, oculata, pulla, wardii]

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

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