|Masdevallia subsp. var.|
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Masdevallia (Joseph Masdevall, a Spanish physician and botanist). Orchidaceae. Orchids, not showy, but odd and often grotesque.
Pseudobulbs none: lvs. variable in size, oblong to linear, thick, sheathing at the base: peduncles bearing from 1-5 or more fls.: petals small and usually hidden in the calyx-tube, the 3 calyx- lobes greatly developed and giving character to the fl.; often these lobes end in slender tails several inches long; lip of the corolla short, articulate with the base of the winged or wingless column, in some species sensitive; pollinia 2, without caulicles. — More than 150 species, inhabitants of the American tropics, and various hybrid and garden forms. The species of the M. coccinea group are relatively simple in form, but are usually prized for their brilliant coloring. Those of the M. Chimaera group are remarkable for their fantastic shapes. Of late years many new kinds have been intro. and the genus is somewhat confused as to the specific limits of the various forms. Masdevallias are polymorphous, and herbarium specimens do not show specific characters well. See "The Genus Masdevallia," by Florence H. Woolward (1896).
Masdevallias are found growing at high elevations, ranging from 6,000 to 12,000 feet above sea-level, in northwestern South America and Central America, with a few sparingly distributed elsewhere over tropical America. These regions are generally subjected to two rainy seasons annually, often with very short intermissions. The atmosphere, though somewhat rarified, is very humid, the temperature in the shade seldom rising above 65° F., and often dropping to 40° in some districts. Heavy fogs are frequent, especially in the forepart of the day, and during the greater part of the year the under- vegetation is in a saturated condition; the high winds prevalent in these districts, however, counteract to a great extent any evil influence which might otherwise arise from it.
The heat of our summer makes it quite impossible to imitate wholly the above conditions, but with a proper house, such as is afforded odontoglossums of the crispum section, very satisfactory results may be obtained and the many species will be found of comparatively easy culture. A low, well-ventilated, half-span house of northern exposure, with an upright stone or brick wall on the south side, is best adapted to them. The house should be provided with canvas roll-shading, supported on a framework elevated 15 or 18 inches above the glass in order that the cool air may pass freely beneath it. This will help to guard against solar heat during summer. Houses built partly below ground are not to be recommended, as the atmosphere soon becomes stagnant and inactive, causing the leaves to fall prematurely. When it is convenient, solid beds are preferable; benches, however, will answer the purpose very well, and when used should be covered about 2 inches deep with sifted ashes, sand or gravel; the benches and floors should be hosed down once or twice daily to afford all the cool moisture possible.
In winter the temperature should range between 50° and 55° F. at night and about 60° during the day or 5° more on mild days, with weak solar heat and ventilation. Artificial heat must be dispensed with as early in spring as possible, and during summer the temperature kept as low as the weather will permit, ventilating freely, especially at night, when a light syringing overhead will also prove beneficial. Midday syringing in hot weather is often injurious and should be done with caution if at all. More benefit will result from hosing down the shelves and paths at intervals of three or four hours, as it will help to reduce the temperature.
Masdevallias need a great deal of water at the roots at all seasons, and the soil should never be allowed to dry out, as they have no fleshy pseudobulbs to protect them against extreme changes. Light syringing overhead during winter and spring in fine weather will assist in checking thrip and red- spider, and a weak solution of tobacco may be added with good effect.
The best season for repotting and basketing the plants is during November and December, and the best general compost is a mixture of clean peat fiber and sphagnum moss chopped rather fine and well mixed, some sections requiring in addition a portion of chopped sod. About one-third of the space should be devoted to clean drainage consisting of either broken charcoal or potsherds.
M. coriacea, M. elephanticeps, M. Peristeria, M. Reichenbachiana, and kindred species, grow best in small pots, and should have one-third chopped sod added to their potting compost. M. macrura, M. Schlimii, M. tovarensis, M. amabilis, M. coccinea, M. Veitchiana, M. triangularis, M. polysticta, M. muscosa, and the numerous other allied species, grow equally well in either pots or baskets, but should the latter be used it would be well to add a small portion of chopped sod to the compost to make it more firm and less porous; the sod has a cooling effect on the roots. M. bella, M. Carderi, M. Chestertonii, M. Chimaera, M. Houtteana and their allies nearly all have pendulous flower-scapes, and should be suspended from the roof in baskets in a compost of equal parts chopped peat-fiber and live sphagnum, with a little leaf-mold added. The flower scapes often penetrate through the compost; for this reason little or no drainage should be used, as it may retard their progress.
To increase the stock the plants must be divided during the early winter; this will give them a chance to reestablish themselves before the following summer. They must not be broken up into too small pieces, as it has a tendency to weaken them.
The following have been offered in Amer., but most of them are imperfectly known. M. cheirophora. — M. Chelsonii-M. amabilis X M. Veitchiana. — M. gibberosa -Scaphosepalun. — M. Hendersonii. — M. punctata-Scaphosepalum. — M. trificata.
M. Alceste-M. Veitchiana X M. Asmodia.— M. Arminii, Reichb. f. Fls. with whitish tube, the free portion of sepals crimson purple, the lateral with filiform yellowish tails 1-2 in. long. Colombia. J.H. III. 50:313; 61:577. — M. burfordiensis. O'Brien. Fls. white, profusely dotted with claret-color; petals white, with purple lobes; lip purple. — M. deorsum, Rolfe. Fls. yellow, blotched bright red; dorsal sepal reflexed, contracted suddenly into a tail 2-3 in. long; lateral sepals gradually narrowed into shorter tails. Colombia. B.M. 7766. G.C. III. 28:395. — M. Ortgiesiana, Hort. Scape 1-fld.; fls. pale greenish white. — M. peruviana, Rolfe. Petals white, tinged with lilac; sepals light brown. Peru. — M. Pourbaixii, Hort.-M. Veitchiana X M. Shuttleworthii. Fls. vermilion, flushed with orange-yellow, and marked with numerous brownish red dots. G.M. 47:373. Lind. 9:387. — M. Schroederiana, Hort. Sepals abruptly contracted into yellow tails, the dorsal arched, the lateral much recurved, thickly 3-nerved, bullate, white marked with red. Peru (?). B.M. 7859. — M. Tonduzii, Woolward. Peduncle slender, 1-fld.; sepals connate at base, whitish citron- colored inside, elongated into slender yellow tails. Costa Rica. — M. venosa. Rolfe. Perianth straw-yellow, densely spotted with dull purple; lip dull red-purple. Colombia. — M. Xipheres, Reichb. f. Allied to M. muscosa: fls. small, purple, on tall slender sts. Colombia.
Pests and diseases
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963