Flower demystification

As Paul suspected, this is a Phalaenoposis flower.  Here it is again, shown next to another flower on the same plant (but different stalk):


As to the second question – why does it look this way – there could be a number of reasons.  I’m leaning toward environmental.  This particular flower stalk is an old one – after it had bloomed initially (with normal flowers), we left it on after the flowers fell.  As often happens, new flower buds appeared, but all of them have been abnormal.  Some were completely fused and never opened.  This one is missing most of its petals.

Other reasons could include viral infection (as Sheila suggested) or somaclonal variation (common in tissue cultured plants, which is how many orchids are propagated).  But this flower stalk is perpetually colder than the rest of the plant as it’s closest to the window.  And since its first crop of flowers were normal, I think this variation is due to cold temperature interference during flower development.

If you have other ideas, be sure to post them!

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

One thought on “Flower demystification”

  1. Temperature is certainly a factor in bud development in Phalaenopsis, but if this orchid perpetually exhibits these abnormal flowers, the problem is genetic. Certain species and hybrids have a tendency to produce these “freaks of nature” and in selecting hybrids, these are typically culled out. Occasionally, some of these seedlings, that appear normal at first, are micropropagated (tissue cultured) and now you’re inundated with plants that could morph into something like what we see here.

    I would still lean towards the temperature dealy being the factor.

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