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 Lycaste subsp. var.  
Ida (syn. Lycaste) cinnabarina
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Orchidaceae > Lycaste var. ,

Lycaste, abbreviated as Lyc in horticultural trade, is a genus of orchids that contains about 30 species with egg-shaped pseudobulbs and thin, plicate (pleated) leaves.

Lycaste flowers, like all orchid blooms, have three petals and three sepals. The petals are typically yellow, white, or orange, and the sepals are yellow, orange, green, or reddish brown. The petals and sepals may be marked sparsely or densely with red, reddish purple, purple, or reddish brown spots. The lip (ventral petal) may be very similar to the other two petals, as in Lycaste aromatica or Lycaste brevispatha, or colored quite distinctively, as in several subspecies and varieties of Lycaste macrophylla. Most Lycaste flowers are medium in size, averaging about 5 to 10 cm, but Lyc. schilleriana is 16-18 cm across. Some Lycaste blooms have a unique fragrance - the scent of Lyc. aromatica has been variously described as cinnamon or clove. The blooms of the species Lyc. cochleata, consobrina, and cruenta also have a pleasant scent.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Lycaste (fanciful name). Orchidaceae. Epiphytic and terrestrial orchids; very popular as greenhouse subjects.

Pseudobulbs ovate or oblong-ovate, bearing 1 to several plicate lvs. at the summit, and sheathing lvs. from the base: sepals subsimilar, spreading, the lateral pair united with the base of the column and forming a spur-like chin or mentum; petals smaller, projecting forward, with the tips often recurved; labellum 3-lobed, the lateral lobes erect, middle lobe ascending or rev curved, with a fleshy, tongue-like callus on the disk; pollinia 4.—About 30 species, all natives of S. Amer.. Mex., and the W. Indies. The fls. are freely produced and remain in good condition on the plant for several weeks. They are normally borne singly on erect or sub-erect bracted scapes, but sometimes twin-fld. stalks occur. In Lycaste the scape arises from the very young leafy axis, which does not develop until several months later. The scape, therefore, appears from the base of the bulb. Among the species, L. Skinneri is a favorite orchid with growers. The species of Lycaste are very distinct from each other and do not fall readily into natural groups. The arrangement in the key is purely artificial, and does not indicate close relationship among the species grouped together.

The genus Lycaste is closely allied to Maxillaria and has a similar geographical range, being found from Mexico and the West Indies to Peru and southeastern Brazil. Notwithstanding this wide distribution, however, they readily subject themselves to one general mode of treatment, and may be grown in a bright cool portion of the cattleya or warm end of the odontoglossum department, where they should receive plenty of indirect solar light, moisture and sufficient ventilation to ensure an active atmosphere. During winter, the night temperature should range from 50° to 55° Fahr. and that of the day from 60° to 65°, or a few degrees higher, with sun heat and ventilation. In summer, the air should be as cool as possible, and contain plenty of moisture. When lycastes are growing they need a good supply of water at the roots, and should never be allowed to remain dry for a long time, even when at rest. Light syringing overhead is beneficial at all times in bright weather when air can be admitted. The deciduous species, however, must be carefully watered when at rest, for it must be remembered that in casting their foliage they lose most of their active radiating surface, thus reducing evaporation to a minimum.—For special treatment, they maybe divided into three groups, L. aromatica, L. costata and L. tetragona forming good types. The L. aromatica section embraces, besides the type, L. candida, L. cruenta, L. Deppei, L. lasioglossa, L. macrobulbon and kindred sorts, all more or less deciduous. These grow best in pots in a mixture of equal parts chopped peat fiber and sphagnum moss, with a small quantity of leaf-mold added. About one-third of the pot space should be devoted to drainage of broken charcoal or potsherds, and the compost must be carefully and rather firmly pressed in about the roots, leaving the base of the pseudobulbs on a level with or a little below the rim of the pot. The best time for transplanting is just after the plants start into new growth, at which time give a more abundant supply of water.—The L. costata group includes, besides the type, such species as L. lanipes, L. locusta and L. Skinneri, which, excepting the last, are but semi-deciduous, large-growing species. They succeed best under pot culture, and should be grown in a compost of about equal parts chopped sod, from which some of the fine soil has been removed, and decomposed leaves, adding a little chopped live sphagnum to keep the soil porous and to retain moisture. The compost should become nearly dry occasionally to prevent it from becoming sour.—The L. tetragona section is small; all are sempervirent and grow best under basket culture in porous material consisting of chopped peat fiber and live sphagnum, well mixed and interspersed with nodules of charcoal. The compost should be pressed in moderately firm about the roots to keep the plant steady, and newly imported pieces should be held in place by copper or brass wire crossed between the pseudobulbs.—Lycaste stock is usually supplied by new importations, but plants may be increased by cutting through the rhizome between the pseudobulbs, two at least being left to each piece.

L. Balliae-L. Skinneri X L. plana var. Measuresiana. Sepals terra-cotta with a rosy flush; petals rose, fading, to white at tips; lip white, irregularly carmine-spotted. O.R. 11:80. G.M. 46:356; 55:210.—l. Barringtoniae. Lindl. Fls. green to tawny yellow; sepals and petals ovate-lanceolate; lip 3-lobed, the front lobe ovate; fimbriate. W. Indies.—L. Cappei—L. Skinneri xL.plana.—L. Charlesworthii-(?).—L. Dyeriana, Sander. Fls. pale green; lip obscurely 3-lobed, the front lobe elliptic, denticulate, reflexed, obtuse. Peru. B.M. 8103.—L. eisgrubensis-L. Skinneri x L, lasioglossa.—L. Formosa-(?). Fls. large, cream-white, with red spots at the base of the petals.—L. fulvencens. Hook. Sepals and petals lanceolate, acuminate, red-brown, paler at base; lip orange- brown, oblong, obtuse. Colombia. B.M. 4193.—L. Groganii-L. aromatica x L. Deppei.—L. Henniseana , Kranzl. Allied to L. lasiogloesa. Fls. large; petals nearly white; lip quite glabrous, white or cream-colored; column pure white, hairy above the middle. Colombia.—L. hybrida-L. Skinneri X L. Deppei. Fls. in size between the two parents, cream-color, minutely dark-spotted.— L. Imschontiana, Lind. & Cogn.—L. Skinneri X Maxillaria nigrescens. Sepals pale yellow, red-spotted; petals pale yellow, smaller, less spotted; lip yellow, dark purple at base. Lind. 410. J.H. III. 62:425.—L. lata, Rolfe. Allied to L. Barringtoniae. Fls. white, except sepals and apex of petals which are green. Peru.—L. Lucianiana-L. Skinneri X L. lasioglossa.—L. macrophylla, Lindl.—L. plana.—L. Micheliana, Cogn. In general aspect much resembling L. aromatica, but with the floral segms. broader. Mex.—L. peruviana, Rolfe. Sepals and petals light brown, becoming paler at base, lip nearly white. Peru.—L. Pourbaixiana-L. Skinneri var. superba x L. Deppei.—L. Rogersonii-L. Skinneri x L. plana.—- L. tricolor, Reichb. f., var. albens. Sepals pale green; petals white with greenish tinge at ends. Tunstillii-(?). Sepals rose-colored; petals white with rose-pink spots; lip ruby-red, with white markings. G.C. III, 54:415.—L. xytriophora, Reichb. Sepals light greenish brown, with a horny point on the under side: petals yellowish green at base, white above; lip small, white, sometimes stained rose- pink. Peru (?).

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.



Pests and diseases


The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is recognized by the American Orchid Society as the definitive authority on orchid taxonomy. The Checklist currently acknowledges 31 species of Lycaste, 3 natural hybrids, 2 subspecies (and 1 nominate subspecies), and 1 variety. Orchid growers and orchid collectors, who tend to be taxonomic "splitters" more often than "lumpers" (see lumpers and splitters), recognize additional subspecies and varieties of Lycaste, as well as alba (white) forms of several species.

The Lycastes have been divided into four sections, one of which has two subsections:

  • Section Deciduosae - deciduous, that is, they usually lose their leaves during an annual dormant period
    • Subsection Xanthanthae - have yellow to orange blooms; the name is from xantho - yellow, and anthos - flower
    • Subsection Paradeciduosae - have pink-marked white blooms; the name is from para- similar or near, and deciduosae- deciduous ones
  • Section Longisepalae - has very long sepals
  • Section Macrophyllae - keep their leaves during dormancy; the name is from macro- large and phyllae- leaves
  • Section Fimbriatae - typically have fringed lips

All but two of the Deciduosae have spines at the apices of their pseudobulbs, that become exposed when the leaves are dropped - the exceptions are a Xanthanthae species, Lycaste lasioglossa, and a Paradeciduosae species, Lycaste tricolor. Both of these species lack spines, and may bloom when leaves are still present.

Lycaste Cassipeia "Autumn glow" (a cultivar)

The recognized Xanthanthae species include:

The Paradeciduosae species include:

The Macrophyllae form a large complex, with subspecies and varieties that can be considered to be in the process of differentiating into new full species. The Macrophyllae species include:

Lycaste xytriophora

The Fimbriatae species include:

Natural hybrids :

  • Lycaste × groganii (Lycaste aromatica × Lycaste deppei)
  • Lycaste × michelii (Lycaste cochleata × Lycaste lasioglossa)
  • Lycaste × smeeana (Lycaste deppei × Lycaste skinneri)


  • Angulocaste (Anguloa x Lycaste)
  • Cochlecaste (Cochleanthes x Lycaste)
  • Colaste (Colax x Lycaste)
  • Lycasteria (Bifrenaria x Lycaste)
  • Lycida (Ida x Lycaste)
  • Maxillacaste (Lycaste x Maxillaria)
  • Zygocaste (Lycaste x Zygopetalum)

A recently published (2003) revision of Lycaste by Henry Oakeley and Angela Ryan split off most of the species of section Fimbriatae as the new genus Ida. The 34 species of Ida occur in South America or in the Caribbean Islands (Ida barringtoniae), while true Lycastes occur mostly in Mexico and Central America. The genus Ida is recognized by the World Checklist of Monocotyledons.


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