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Cattleya aurantiaca

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LIGHT moderate light
TEMPERATURE range from extremely hot to extremely cold
HUMIDITY air circulation and humidity, allow to dry (moist) between watering  
Spring through Summer


Found in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, natural habitat consists of low mountain and tropical rain forests between 300 and 1600 meters.


CAUTION:  This species grows to a height of 18-24 inches tall, provide adequate air circulation and humidity


Cattleya aurantiaca has the smallest flowers of all Cattleya species. It is also the most northern-growing species.









From the Cattleya Source


Common Name: Orange Cattleya

Habitat: Mexico, El Salvador. Cattleya aurantiaca's natural habitat consists of low mountain and tropical rain forests between 300 and 1600 meters. Temperatures range from extremely hot to extremely cold. Plants are found growing on exposed rock outcroppings and on tree branches.

Plant Size: Small. The cylindrical pseudobulbs of Cattleya aurantiaca are topped with two leaves. This species grows to a height of 18-24 inches tall and is a vigorous grower. With time it may form a large specimen plant.

Flower Size: 1 inch wide (2.5 cm). The flowers of Cattleya aurantiaca form at the top of a 6 1/2 inch (16 cm) stem. Two to eleven flowers top each stem. Some cultivars have flowers that do not open fully. Some flowers self-pollinate prior to opening on individuals from the northernmost parts of the species range.

Flower Description: Flowers of Cattleya aurantiaca are red-orange to yellow or rarely white. These substantial, fragrant flowers burst with stunning hot color.

Bloom Season: Late Winter, Spring

Growing Temperature: Cool to Warm. Cattleya aurantiaca is quite easy to grow and is compatible with other Cattleyas in an intermediate or warm environment and moderate light. Do let plant dry out in between waterings (moist but not wet). Provide adequate air circulation and humidity. South Florida growers say this species does well outdoors.

Additional Information: Cattleya aurantiaca has the smallest flowers of all Cattleya species. It is also the most northern-growing species. It has been used to bring the orange color to many modern Cattleya hybrids. Cattleya aurantiaca and Cattleya skinneri naturally hybrid to create Cattleya x guatemalensis. There is a yellow form available that has pale canary-yellow blooms called Cattleya aurantiaca var. aurea.

Synonyms: Amalia aurantiaca, Broughtonia aurea, Epidendrum aurantiacum, Epidendrum aureum, Guarianthe aurantiaca, Laelia aurantiaca



The Bifoliate Cattleyas


The following article first appeared in the February 1956 (Vol. 25, No. 2, page 159) American Orchid Society BULLETIN as part of a multi-part Beginners' Handbook. It has been edited here to reflect current taxonomic nomenclature and synonymy. At the time of the original publication, the Brazilian laelias and Sophronitis were considered distinct from Cattleya. They have been now reclassified and the Central American bifoliate cattleyas moved to Guarianthe. Those Cattleya species that flower from specially modified reproductive growths (appear to be basal inflorescences) are not, strictly speaking, bifoliate cattleyas but they were included here by the author. The article has been left intact but the Central American species and Prosthechea citrina (Cattleya citrina) have been moved to the end of the article.


In the Beginners' Handbook for March, 1956, we discussed the genus Cattleya and its allies, devoting the balance of the article to one section of the genus, the unifoliate or one-leaved Cattleyas. As we noted in that installment, that group of Cattleyas is predominant in horticultural interest, with species and hybrids of the labiate section constituting the major commercial cut-orchid crop as well as the most popular plant among amateur orchid growers. However, the labiate section is surpassed in number of botanically distinct species by the remaining portion of the genus which is considered, for convenience, as the bifoliate or two-leaved group of Cattleyas.


Except for a half dozen species found in Mexico and Central America, all the bifoliate Cattleyas are natives of Brazil with an extension of range, in the case of several species, into neighboring countries, for orchids do not respect national boundaries but geographical limits. In Brazil, the species have fairly well-defined and restricted limits, the overall distribution being roughly similar to the unifoliate species and to the Laelias. While a few are found at comparatively low altitudes, and hence require a slightly warmer culture, the majority of species are from the mountain areas and demand the same treatment as the labiate Cattleyas. The interpenetration of ranges has resulted in the formation of a number of natural hybrids, not only between two bifoliate species but also between bifoliate and unifoliate Cattleyas. A few supposed natural hybrids between bifoliate Cattleyas and species of Laelia are also known.


List of species: as is true of most of the horticulturally valuable orchids, the bifoliate Cattleyas constitute a complex, variable and difficult group which defies sharp delineation among the many component species. Due to the large number of imports which gave rise to many errors in identification and a multitude of names, a sound taxonomic treatment of the section cannot be presented with as much authority as desired. Certain important species, such as Cattleya guttata, Cattleya intermedia, Cattleya loddigesii and their varieties are still much confused, particularly in respect to some of their less typical forms. There is no popular treatment of this group of Cattleyas to be found in literature. Botanically, the most authoritative study is Alfred Cogniaux's work on the orchids in Martins' FLORA BRASILIENSIS, published 1893-1906. Descriptions and text are in Latin, and some of the concepts should be revaluated in the light of more recent knowledge. Nevertheless, this presentation is extremely useful and is the basis, with slight modification, of the following groupings.


I. Lateral lobes of lip small or sometimes absent; column exposed or enveloped by the lateral lobes to a certain degree at the base of the lip.

A. Inflorescence basal.

Cattleya walkeriana, C. nobilior

B. Inflorescence terminal.

Cattleya aclandiae,  C.  x dolosa,  C.  bicolor,  C. velutina

II.   Lateral lobes of lip large, enveloping the column entirely or for the greater part.

A. Midlobe of lip somewhat larger, more or less long and clawed.

Cattleya granulosa, C. porphyroglossa, C. schofieldiana, C. x brasiliensis, C. guttata, C. x patrocinii, C. tigrina, C. amethystoglossa, C. elongata, C. x victoriae-reginae, C. schilleriana, C. x Whitei.

B. Midlobe of lip small, sessile or subsessile.

Cattleya violacea, C. x brymeriana, C. loddigesii, C. harrisoniana, C. intermedia, C. forbesii, C. x isabella, C. dormaniana.

C. Midlobe of lip large, more or less continuous with lateral lobes. - All reclassified in other genera

Prosthechea citrina, Guarianthe aurantiaca, Gur. x guatemalensis, Gur. skinneri, Gur. bowringiana.


This listing does not completely exhaust the possible number of species nor does it include all the known or suspected natural hybrids. Many published concepts are based on a single collection or on obscure characters, and the minute detail necessary for monographic treatment would be out of place here, even were the required research accomplished, which it is not. These groupings do establish relationships fairly well, however, with the exception of Prosthechea citrina which is included with Guarianthe aurantiaca and the Gur. skinneri alliance only as a matter of convenience.


Species Now Reclassified to Other Genera

Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Originally described as Epidendrum aurantiacum by Lindley in the BOTANICAL REGISTER for 1838, this species represents the uncertain boundary line that by convention separated the genus Cattleya from the genus Epidendrum. It and the other closely related Central American species have recently been transferred to Guarianthe. The club-shaped pseudobulbs are a foot to fifteen inches high, with a pair of leathery, dark green leaves. The inch-and-a-half flowers are produced in an arching or slightly drooping raceme from the base of the leaves. The petals and sepals are similar, bright cinnabar-red in color. The lip is obscurely three-lobed, the middle lobe somewhat acute, cinnabar-red with several dark streaks or veins. There are several forms of this species, some being very vigorous with numerous larger flowers. Some forms do not open widely, some being truly cleistogamous, that is, self-pollinating. An easily grown species, of interest for its behavior as well as for the bright color of its small flowers, it makes a nice plant for the hobbyist, blooming in the spring and summer.




Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca 'Laura Palmieri', AM/AOS; Grower: Mario & Silvia Palmieri, photo: Maria Teresa Diaz





This is only an excerpt from the complete article, which can be found by clicking the link below.



Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca - Orchid Profile

Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Guarianthe (Cattleya) aurantiaca is one of the smallest flowering of the Cattleya group. It has recently been moved into the group Guarianthe, but is better known as the Orange Cattleya. Native to Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala it grows as an epiphyte or lithophyte. They normally grow as small to medium plants, but can reach 15 inches, or 30 centimeters, tall with an inflorescence of 4 inches, or 10 centimeters.
The normal flowering season is in the spring in its native habitat, but fall for those plants grown in the northern hemisphere. The flowers are held in a cluster with up to 15 flowers per inflorescence and are 1-1.5 inches, or 3-4 centimeters, in size. There are two main varieties, the bright orange and a yellow which can vary from lemon to cream. You should be careful when buying one of these plants to try to see a flowering plant since some varieties will produce flowers which do not open fully and are not as pleasing as those which present well. Most plants available commercially have been bred for open flowers, but be sure to ask. This is one of the few Cattleya Alliance species which will self-pollinate, especially the ones which produce the half open flowers.
Due to its wide range in nature, this is an extremely adaptable species as far as temperature range which is generally considered to be intermediate to cool growing, but will tolerate warmer temperatures with good air circulation. It requires high light during its growing season in order to produce blooms. The native habitat is very humid with abundant rainfall, so the plant does not like to be dry long but the roots will rot if left for long periods with wet media. Small pots with quick draining medium or mounting is the best choice as well as semi-hydroponics.
This is one species which requires a dry winter rest with cooler nights in order to bloom well. They will tolerate temperatures to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 degrees Centigrade. The rest period in winter should be for approximately 4 months, from December through March, with reduced watering and fertilizer but the plants should not be allowed to be completely dry during this period. Humidity should remain high throughout the year.
This species produces a natural hybrid with Guarianthe skinneri called Guarianthe guatemalensis is a very pleasing plant to grow also with a wide range of colors. The cross is a very large plant which produces very impressive specimen plants.





Cattleya aurantiaca [Bateman ex Lindley]P.N. Don 1840 SUBGENUS Circumvola SECTION Aurantiacae Withner 1989 Photo courtesy of Jay Pfahl


Common Name Orange Cattleya


Flower Size 1" [2.5 cm]


This stout, small to medium sized, epiphytic and occasional lithophytic species is found in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica at elevations of 300 to 1600 meters in tropical and lower mountain rain forests on exposed rocks, or on trees in areas of extreme heat and cold and it grows warm to cool with elongate, cylindric-fusiform, lightly compressed pseudobulbs carrying 2, apical, coiaceous, fleshy, elliptic to oblong-lanceolate leaves with a rounded, retuse apex that flowers from late winter through spring on a terminal, 6 1/2" [16 cm] long, few to many [2 to 11] flowered, umbelliform inflorescence arising on a mature pseudobulb.


This plant's flowers are the smallest in the genus and northern populations can self-pollinate which causes the flowers to not open fully. This species and C. skinneri naturally hybrid to create C. guatemalensis.


Synonyms Amalia aurantiaca (Bateman ex Lindl.) Heynh. 1846; Broughtonia aurea Lindl. 1840; *Epidendrum aurantiacum Batem. ex Lindley 1838; Epidendrum aureum Lindley 1853; Guarianthe aurantiaca (Bateman ex Lindl.) Dressler & W.E. Higgins 2003; Laelia aurantiaca (Bateman ex Lindl.) Beer 1854


References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; The Orchids of Mexico and Guatemala Bateman 1843 as Epidendrum aurantiacum drawing fide; Xenia Orchidaceae Rchb.f 1862 as Epidendrum aurantiacum; Die Orchideen Schlechter 1915; AOS Bulletin Vol 29 No 2 1960; AOS Bulletin Vol 30 No 9 1961; Die Orchideen #10 37-40a tafel 10 Rudolph Schlechter 1971 photo fide; Orchid Digest Vol 38 No 1 1974 photo fide; Orchid Digest Vol 42 No 2 1978 photo fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 49 No 5 1979 photo; Orchid Digest Vol 44 No 2 1980; AOS Bulletin Vol 49 No 6 1980 photo; AOS Bulletin vol 53 no 7 1984 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 55 No 1 1986 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 67 No 2 1998 photo; Botanica's Orchids Laurel Glen 2002; AOS Bulletin Vol 62 No 11 1993 photo; The Catttleya and Their Relatives Withner Vol 1 1998 photo fide; Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids Hawkes 1965; Manual of Orchids Stewart 1995; Manual of Cultivated Orchids Bechtel, Cribb and Laurent 1982; AOS Bulletin Vol 72 No 4 2003 photo; Flora's Orchids Nash & La Croix 2005; An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids Pridgeon 1982; Growing Orchids Vol 2 Rentoul 1982; Icones Planetarum Tropicarum Plate 630 Hamer 1982 drawing fide; Flora Novo-Galaciana Vol 16 McVaugh 1985; Icones Orchidacearum I Plate 7 Salazar 1990 drawing fide; An Introduction to the Orchids of Mexico Wiard 1987; Las Orquedias De El Salvador Hamer vol 1 1974 drawing/photo fide; Las Orquideas De El Salvador Vol 3 Hamer 1981 drawing fide; Orchid Of Guatemala and Belize Ames & Correll 1985; Selbyana Vol 10 Orchids of Central America Hamer 1988 drawing fide; Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama Dressler 1993; Vanishing Beauty, Native Costa Rican Orchids Vol 1 Pupulin 2005 as Guarianthe auriantica photo fide; Miniature Orchids Frownie 2007


Cattleya aurantiaca [Bateman ex Lindley]P.N.Don var alba 1840 SUBGENUS Circumvola SECTION Aurantiacae Withner 1989 Photo courtesy of David Hunt



Guarianthe aurantiaca


Guarianthe aurantiaca is a species of orchid. It is widespread across much of Mexico, south to Costa Rica.[1] The diploid chromosome number of G. aurantiaca has been determined as 2n = 40.[2]

The phananthrenoids orchinol and loroglossol have a phytoalexin effect and reduce the growth of G. aurantiaca seedlings.[3]


  1. Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. page 252. Leonardo P. Felix and Marcelo Guerra: "Variation in chromosome number and the basic number of subfamily Epidendroideae (Orchidaceae)" Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 163(2010)234-278, The Linnean Society of London
  3. Effects of Orchinol, Loroglossol, Dehydroorchinol, Batatasin III, and 3,4'- Dihydroxy-5-Methoxydihydrostilbene on Orchid Seedlings. Katherine A. Hills, Albert Stoessl, Allison P. Oliva and Joseph Arditti, Botanical Gazette, September 1984, Vol. 145, No. 3, pages 298-301 (link)



From by Richard Lindberg


The genus Cattleya (C) contains quite a few species from tropical South America. They do best in a medium that has good drainage and dry between watering. Give them a short dryer rest after blooming.

Cattleya aurantiaca grows in Mexico and El Salvador in rain forests. It is cool to warm growing and blooms in winter and spring.

This plant is in sphagnum over peanuts in a 5-inch clay pot. There are four pseudobulbs and stands nine inches above the pot.


Friday, March 2, 2012

This plant has me confused. It is in bark in a very wet environment and should not be doing very well. Instead it is in bloom and the new pseudobulb looks fat and happy.

Cattleya aurantiaca grows in Mexico and El Salvador in rain forests. It is cool to warm growing and blooms in winter and spring.

The only thing I can think is different is that I raised the base temperature to above 60 degrees. The microclimate this plant is in is one of the warmest in the greenhouse. It is a little difficult to compare with last year because the fans and all the benches are configured differently than they were then.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

In August 2010 I got four Cattleya aurantiaca seedling from Ian's Orchids on EBay. I put two in rocks and two in bark and spread them around the greenhouse. This particular plant grew well and actually bloomed the next year. It is one of the ones in bark and is partially shaded by mounted orchids.

Cattleya aurantiaca grows in Mexico and El Salvador in rain forests. It is cool to warm growing and blooms in winter and spring.

This plant was put in bark over peanuts in a 2 1/2-inch plastic pot. There were three pseudobulbs and a new growth. As the new growth developed it got tippy so I put that in a larger clay pot with rocks. The pseudobulb that is blooming now is over the edge of the plastic pot and has roots down in the rocks. It is much taller than last year's growth and there are quite a few flowers.



Monday, July 29, 2013

I created a problem for myself with this Cattleya aurantiaca. It had gone over the edge of the pot when it bloomed in March. I had planned to re-pot but then didn't.

The roots of the largest pseudobulb were attacked by snails. Then a new growth started at a wierd angle. I couldn't find an orientation that worked for the whole plant when re-potting.

Cattleya aurantiaca grows in Mexico and El Salvador in rain forests. It is cool to warm growing and blooms in winter and spring.

Fortunately, there was a solution. The roots on the rest of the plant were really excellent. I cut off the newest pseudobulb and the new growth and treated that like a sprouted backbulb division. I was perhaps a little early potting it in sphagnum but I think it will develop new roots in the new pot. 


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