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 Gongora subsp. var.  
Habit: orchid
Height: to
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Lifespan: perennial
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Orchidaceae > Gongora var. ,

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Gongora, abbreviated Gga in horticultural trade, is a member of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae). It consists of 65 species known from Central America, Trinidad, and tropical South America, with most species found in Colombia. They grow in wide geographical range from wet forests at sea level to mountainous regions in the Andes, as high as 1,800 m.

The name comes from Antonio Caballero y Gongora, a viceroy of New Granada (Colombia and Ecuador) and the governor of Peru during the Ruiz and Pavón botanical expedition.

Gongora was one of the first orchids described by a western man. Several new Gongora orchids have been discovered in the last ten years, while many others have been assigned under another specific name. Yet there is still some confusion. Many species lack the right description. Some species, such as Gongora portentosa and Gongora superflua, are very rare. DNA fingerprinting will in time contribute to an exact taxonomy of this genus.

All species in this genus are epiphytes with a sympodial growth. The white aerial roots are very thin, growing in a dense pack. Some roots even grow upright instead of hanging down. This specialisation helps in forming the ball of aerial roots. Many are found in association with ant nests.

The conical pseudobulbs are ridged and are about 8 cm long. In some species, such as Gongora similis, the pseudobulb can produce up to six inflorescences in succession. Two alternate leaves originate from the end of each pseudobulb. The leaves are rather leathery and heavily veined, growing to a length of about 30 cm.

The racemose inflorescence grows from the base of the pseudobulbs. The stem first grows upright, but bends early in development and becomes pendulous. The numerous flowers hang upside down, with the lip upwards. The almost circularly bent pedicels are characteristic of this genus. There are two lateral sepals and one dorsal sepal. The blooms of several species are waxy. The flowers of many species have distinctive fragrances. Some smell like unburned candle wax, others like nutmeg, cardamom, or cinnamon. The pollinia are superposed on a stipe (a cellular pollinium stalk), which is held by a viscid disc.

The genus is closely related to Cirrhaea. For other relatives see also Stanhopeinae & Coeliopsidinae.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Gongora (after Don Antonio Caballero y Gongora, Bishop of Cordova). Includes Acropera. Orchidaceae, tribe Vandae, subtribe Cyrtopbdieae. A small group of plants with curious spotted flowers, not common in cultivation, and of little value except for collections.

Distinguished from the other members of the sub- tribe by being epiphytic, having the dorsal sepal adnate to the column, and by its many-fld. raceme: dorsal sepal erect, spreading, thus appearing to spring from the base of the column; lateral sepals spreading or reflexed from the base of the column, wider; petals small, adnate to the base of the column; labellum continuous with the column, narrow and fleshy, with 2 thick lateral horned or aristulate lobes, and a central one which is saccate or even folded, forming a vertical plate; column erect or ascending, not winged: pseudobulbs sulcate, sheathed, bearing 1 or 2 large, plicate lvs.: fls. borne in a long, loose, pendent raceme arising from the base of the pseudobulbs.—Over 20 species from Brazil to Mex.

Gongoras are extremely free-flowering, and grow easily in a mixture of sphagnum and peat, with a little charcoal added for drainage. During the growing season they require plenty of water, and brisk heat. In the winter they require little water, but should be kept in a moist atmosphere in a cool, shaded house. They grow well with cattleyas, or in a temperature of 60° in winter and 80° in summer. Some growers prefer to use fine fern root packed tightly and for a top finish a little fine moss found in damp meadows, instead of sphagnum, which in this climate is quick to decay. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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According to Rod Rice in Infragen. Rev. Gen. Gongora (2002, 2003) the genus Gongora can be classified into subgenera and sections as followswp:

Subgenus Gongora wp

  • Section Aceras with four species
  • Section Gongora with about 30-33 species [G. atropurpurea, G. catilligera, G. latisepala, G. odoratissima, G. rufescens]
  • Section Gratulabunda with four species
  • Section Grossa with five species
  • Section Truncata with nine species [G. charontis, G. dressleri,G. longipes, G. tracyana]

Subgenus Portentosawp

  • one section with at least five species [G. escobariana, G. garayana, G. portentosa, G. sanderiana]

Subgenus Acropera wp

  • Section Acropera with one species
  • Section Armeniaca with two species and one to two subspecies
  • Section Cassidea with four species [G. amparoana, G. cassidea, G. galeata, G. tridentata]

Gongora galeata
Gongora maculata

Intergeneric hybrids

  • Houllora (Gongora x Houlletia) wp
  • Gonginia (Gongora x Paphinia) wp
  • Polygora (Gongora x Polycyncis)wp
  • Stangora (Gongora × Stanhopea) wp


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