Stanhopea impressa

Rolfe 1898

Native to Colombia and Ecuador

Edited 10 May 2007

Photo by Marc Bik

Stanhopea impressa was first published by the English botanist Robert Allan Rolfe in Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information Kew 196, in 1898, described from a specimen that supposedly came from Ecuador, and published without illustration. Jenny (1993) tells us that the type specimen, in the Kew herbarium, consists of a single leaf and an inflorescense of three flowers. The first published drawing of the lip was done by Dodson (1975) and the first color picture was published in 1986.

Habitat: The plants grow epiphytically in wet forests at 500-2000 m (1600-6300 ft) in southern Colombia and western Ecuador. Jenny (1993) suggests that they are also (rarely) found growing terrestrially on steep slopes, roadsides, and among low bush vegetation. The leaves are large, full, and upright. Flowers are white to yellow with some red speckling, and there may be from five to nine flowers on each pendulous inflorescence.

This species has also been published under the synonym Stanhopea carchiensis by C.H. Dodson, in Orquideologia v.21(1): 46 (1998).

The photo at left was taken by Marc Bik on 19 April 2001, from a first-bloom seedling with five flowers. The flowers had a prominent, unpleasant scent of creosote, very different from the more common sweet/honey-like scent of other Stanhopea species. The plant originally came from Tropical Orchid Farm, Maui. Having opened at an unusually opportune time, it was exhibited at the Houston Orchid Show and received a tricolor ribbon on 20 April 2001.


Dodson (1975) writes that Stanhopea impressa and Stanhopea annulata are both pollinated by the bee Euglossa grantii. They combine in the only known natural hybrid involving Stanhopea impressa, and that is Stanhopea thienii C.H. Dodson, ( annulata x impressa), published in 'Orchids of Ecuador,' Icones Plantarum Tropicarum:t. 323 (1980). It was named for co-discoverer Dr. Leonard Thien. The natural hybrid has been found only in Ecuador so far, although both species are also found in Colombia.

No artificially-made hybrids have been registered with the R.H.S. involving Stanhopea impressa.

AOS awards to Stanhopea impressa:

(1) Stanhopea impressa 'Impressive' CHM/AOS (81 pts)
April 30, 1994
Eleven flowers on two inflorescences borne on a very impressive plant recently identified from Ecuador; sepals and petals base color pale yellow with random magenta spots and blotches; petals with magenta circular spotting at base; lip pouched, apricot at base fading to cream-color apically, blotched magenta at base of lip, apex finely spotted with magenta; substance light; texture of lip waxy. Natural spread of flower 11.0cm, 9,3cm vertical; ds 3.2cm w, 5.9cm l; pet 2.3cm w, 5.1cm l; ls 4.5cm w, 6.0cm l; lip 2.6cm w, 5.2cm l.
Awarded at Gainesville Orchid Society Show; photographer unknown.
Exhibitor: Mark Whitten, Gainesville, Florida (940464)
Published in AQ v. 25 (4), Winter 1994, pg. 255 with B&W photo.

The following two awards were granted to plants that I believe have been misidentified. They both appear to be examples of Stanhopea connata. I suspect that this misidentification came about based on the incorrect name published in Native Colombian Orchids, Volume 4, pp. 550-551 (1992). This is yet another example which suggests that relying on a single book, rather than having a proper taxonomic identification, is insufficient for legitimizing species awards in the lesser-known genera. Rodrigo Escobar rectified the mistake in a subsequent volume of the same series, Native Colombian Orchids, Volume 6, pp. 1030-1031 (1998).
However, these two AOS awards, from 1998 and 2000, are still listed in the AOS award records as Stanhopea impressa.

(2) Stanhopea impressa 'Crownfox' AM/AOS (82 pts)
January 24, 1998
Five very nicely presented flowers on two inflorescences; flowers in excellent condition, yellowish-orange, spotted with burgundy; petals darker burgundy; lip large dark burgundy basally, clear waxy orange at the tips; hypochile concave-saccate with a pair of horns arising under the column, mesochile with a short pair of lateral falcate horns; substance leathery; texture very waxy. Natural spread of flower 11.5cm, 9.0cm vertical; ds 3.9cm w, 5.8cm l; pet 4.6cm w, 6.0cm l; ls 3.2cm w, 4.6cm l; lip 3.0cm w, 4.6cm l.
Awarded at West Palm Beach Judging Center; photography by Greg Allikas.
Exhibitor: R.F. Orchids, Inc., Homestead, FL. (980167)
Published in AQ v. 29 (3), pg. 242, with a large color photo on pg. 239.

(3) Stanhopea impressa 'Crownfox Gold' AM/AOS (82 pts)
October 6, 2000
Five typically pendent, spotted, golden-yellow flowers on two inflorescences in excellent condition; sepals very lightly freckled burgundy; petals more heavily spotted, with larger spots at base; hypochile typically concave-saccate, with a pair of horns arising from under column, mesochile with a pair of short lateral horns; substance leathery; texture matte on sepals and petals, lip waxy. Natural spread of flower 11.0cm, 9.0cm vertical; ds 4.2cm w, 5.9cm l; pet 3.0cm w, 4.1cm l; ls 4.7cm w, 5.5cm l; lip 3.5cm w, 3.2cm l.
Awarded at Redland Professional Orchid Growers October Orchidfest, Miami, FL; photography by Greg Allikas.
Exhibitor: R.F. Orchids, Inc., Homestead, FL. (20001660)
Published in AQ v. 32 (2), July 2001, pg. 115, with a small color photo on pg. 100.


Calaway H. Dodson 1975, "Orchids of Ecuador: Stanhopea," in: Selbyana, 1(2): 114-129.

Calaway H. Dodson & P. M. Dodson 1980, "Orchids of Ecuador," in: Icones Plantarum Tropicarum, 4: 301-400, published by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. [Stan. impressa is Plate 321; Stan. x thienii is Plate 323].

Calaway H. Dodson 1988, "A list of the orchid species reported for Ecuador, in: Orquídeas de la costa del Ecuador, pp. 115-129.

Calaway H. Dodson 1998, Orquideologia,21(1): 46 [as Stanhopea carchiensis].

Rodrigo R. Escobar [ed.] 1992, Native Colombian Orchids, Volume 4: Porroglossum-Zygosepalum. Medellin: Compania Litografica Nacional S.A., pp. 456-616. [pp. 546-553: Stanhopea platyceras, reichenbachiana, impressa, oculata, connata, candida, avicula, shuttleworthii, wardii, panamensis, pulla] *** N.B.! Stanhopea impressa is misidentified in this book, on pp. 550-551. The flowers in the top photo of pg. 550 are Stan. connata.

Rodrigo R. Escobar [ed.] 1998, Native Colombian Orchids, Volume 6: Supplement Leucohyle-Zootrophion. Medellin: Compania Litografica Nacional S.A., pp. 847-1069. [pp. 1022-1033: Stanhopea cf. costaricensis, ospinae, stevensonii, wardii, jenischiana, posadae, shuttleworthii, candida, annulata, pulla, avicula, tricornis, impressa, x herrenhusana, reichenbachiana]. *** The misidentification of Stanhopea impressa was rectified in this later volume, pp. 1030-1031.

Rudolf Jenny Jan-Feb-Mar 1993, 'The Genus Stanhopea in Colombia,' in: Orchid Digest 57(1): 17. [Stanhopea annulata, candida, connata, florida, grandiflora, x herrenhusana, impressa, jenischiana, oculata, ospinae, platyceras, pulla, reichenbachiana, rodigasiana, shuttleworthii, tricornis, wardii].

Rudolf Jenny 1999, "The Gongorinae: 7. Stanhopea: part 20," in: Caesiana no. 13: 17-24. [Stanhopea maduroi, S. impressa and S. carchiensis].

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.

Robert Allan Rolfe 1898, original publication in Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 196.

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. [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]

Web References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Stanhopea impressa records in the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador (CVPE) - at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT). The epiphytes were collected in the coastal and Andean regions at elevations of 500-2000m, in the Ecuadoran provinces of Bolívar, Cotopaxi, Imbabura, Los Ríos, Pichincha.

Stanhopea impressa photo at Klehm Growers (Arnie Klehm).

Stanhopea impressa 'Crownfox' AM/AOS on The Orchid Photo Page, by Greg Allikas

Stanhopea impressa photo from Jay Pfahl's Orchid Species website.

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