Stanhopea tricornis

Lindley 1849

Native to Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Edited 29 June 2007
© Nina Rach

Stanhopea tricornis by Pedro Glucksmann

Original publication: Journal of the Horticultural Society of London 4: 263. 1849.
{J. Hort. Soc. London ; BPH 469.13}

Synonyms: Stan. convoluta, Stan. wallisii.

This is a very distinctive stanhopea, and easy to identify. The petals clasp the column and lip and the lip has three horns (giving rise to the name). Flowers are white to cream with pale to bright yellow markings on the end of the lip, sepals, and petals.

Flowers have good substance, nearly waxy, and sepals will snap off if you attempt to open the flower.


Stanhopea tricornis subsp. stenochila, photo by Pedro Glucksmann

Curry et al. (1991) suggest that "Stanhopea tricornis may be a hybrid between a species of Sievekingia and Stanhopea."


There is a subspecies called stenochila which has small magenta spots or speckles on the base (bottom) of the lip (hypochile), and sometimes at the base of petals and sepals. (see photo at right)


Photos taken 9 April 2000 by Pedro Glucksmann in Venezuela.





Stanhopea tricornis by Pedro Glucksmann

"Stanhopea tricornis is found in hot lowland regions of Colombia. The beautiful, large (3-1/2-inch, 9cm) fragrant flowers are produced to or three to the stem. Like other Stanhopeas, the inflorescence pushes downward - basket culture is required. Although of thick substance, the flowers last only a few days. Provide shady conditions and do not allow to dry completely." by Greg Allikas, from his OrchidWorks website

A seedling in my collection bloomed in January 1998, and the singular flower, which had a very heavy substance, almost like plastic or wax, was damaged when it was blown over by a strong wind during an outdoor photgraphy session (sepal snapped off). Has subsequently rebloomed twice a year, bearing two flowers each time. The buds always emerge up and grow out across the top of the media. Plant is growing in a fine bark mix with perlite and chopped Chilean sphagnum.

AOS Awards:

Stanhopea tricornis 'Michael' HCC/AOS 77 pts.

Awarded August 23, 1997 to R.F. Orchids, Florida.
AQ description: "Two flowers on one inflorescence with two emerging inflorescence[s]; sepals ivory with medium brown spots at base; petals ivory heavily suffused with yellow toward the apex and spotted with darker brown spots; lip yellow with the outer surface of base heavily marked with cinnamon spots; column lime green, anther cap very light green; substance heavy, texture slightly crystalline.
Size: Natural spread 11.8cm horizontal, 10.4cm vertical.
ds 4.0cm w, 6.9cm l;pet 3.1cm w, 5.4cm l; ls 4.1cm w, 6.1cm l; lip 2.0cm w, 4.6cm l."

Printed References:

Arcadio Arosema G., Roberto Estrada G., Cecilia De Jurado, Max Konanz M. (1988) Orchids From the Coast of Ecuador. Guayaquil: Asociacion Ecuatoriana de Orquideologia, 129p., 171 color photos. [154-155 Stan. florida; 156. Stan annulata; 157. Stan embreei; 158. Stan. frymirei; 159. Stan. jenishiana [ibid.]; 160. Stan. tricornis]

Kenneth J. Curry, Lorraine M. McDowell, Walter S. Judd, & William Louis Stern (May 1991) "Osmophores, Floral Features, and Systematics of Stanhopea (Orchidaceae)," in: American Journal of Botany 78(5): 610-623. "The floral fragrance glands (osmophores) of 18 species of Stanhopea and Sievekingia were examined through a series of developmental studies at light and electron microscope levels including late bud stages through postanthesis..."
[Sievekingia; Stanhopea anfracta, annulata, candida, ecornuta, gibbosa, martiana, oculata, pulla, radiosa, ruckeri, saccata, shuttleworthii, tigrina, tricornis, vasquezii, and wardii] Link to abstract:

Calaway H. Dodson (1967) "El genero Stanhopea en Colombia," in: Orquideologia 2(4): 7-27. [Stan. annulata, candida, florida, grandiflora, impressa, jenishiana, oculata, ospinae, platyceras, reichenbachiana, rodigasiana, shuttleworthii, tricornis, tricornis ssp. stenochila, wardii]

Calaway H. Dodson (Marzo 1972) "_____," in: Orquideologia v.7(1): 13-18 + color photos p.34-35. [Stan. tricornis with Eulaema meiriania; Gongora quinquenervis with Euglossa]

Calaway H. Dodson and G.P. Frymire (May 1961) "Preliminary Studies in the genus Stanhopea (Orchidaceae)," in: Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 48(2): 137-172. [bucephalus, deltoidea, tricornis]

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: Stan. cf. costaricensis, ospinae, stevensonii, wardii, jenischiana, posadae, shuttleworthii, candida, annulata, pulla, avicula, tricornis, impressa, xherrenhusana, reichenbachiana]

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 (Dec. 1993) 'The Genus Stanhopea,' in: AOS Bull. 62(12): 1271-1277; includes the very useful 'Preliminary List of Stanhopea Species'. [photos of: Stan. shuttleworthii, hernandezii, jenischiana x connata, eccornuta, deltoidea, connata, candida, tricornis; Embreea rodigasiana; Stan. Mem. Paul Allen]

Rudolf Jenny (1998a) "Un hibrido Natural del genero Stanhopea muy poco visto," in: Orquideophilo 6(1): 41-43, incl. color photos, drawings, and map. [Stan. x herrenhusana, reichenbachiana, tricornis, tricornis ssp. stenochila]

Rudolf Jenny (1998b) "Un hibrido natural del genero Stanhopea muy poco visto, Parte II," in: Orquideophilo 6(2): 47-49, incl. color photos, drawings, and map. [Stan. tricornis ssp. stenochila] See: Dodson (1967)

Rudolf Jenny (2003, in press) Stanhopea monograph. Caesiana.

John Lindley (1849) "___," in: Journ. Hort. Soc. vol.4, p. 263. [original publication]

Charles Schweinfurth (1960) "Orchidaceae, Orchids of Peru," in: Fieldiana, Botany 30(3): 533--786 [Stanhopea pp 606-612: Stanhopea anfracta (as wardii), connata, graveolens, Haseloviana, Moliana, peruviana (as wardii), Randii, tricornis, Wardii]

William Louis Stern (July-Aug 2001) "Savoury Stanhopeas," in: The Orchid Review 109(1240): 235-237. [Explains the source of stanhopea perfume; color photos of Stanhopea tricornis with euglossine bee; Stan. panamensis hypochile; and Stan. 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. [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]

Roger Williams (Nov. 1999) "Growing Orchids in the Southern Hemisphere," in: Orchids 68(11): 1140-1145. [Cool-house: Stanhopea anfracta, connata, tigrina; Intermediate-house: Stan. pozoi, warscewicziana; Warm-house: Stan. candida, grandiflora, napoensis, tricornis]

Web References:

International Plant Names Index, IPNI

Missouri Botanical Garden, Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador in: TROPICOS database at MOBOT

Photo at by Greg Allikas

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