From the Greek kata (down) and Latin seta ( bristle)
This unusual group of orchids offers fascinating, waxy flowers that often have the peculiar habit of discharging their pollen masses (pollinia) onto pollinators. Almost always deciduous, the pseudobulbous plants have strict growing and resting periods. Most flower before entering a dormant period when they drop their leaves.
There are 70 species spread from Mexico to Argentina and the West Indies of this deciduous fleshy pseudobulb with eight to twelve leaves. The inflorescence starts at the base of the pseudobulbs and may be erect or pendulous with male or female flowers . The male flowers are characterized with the ability to eject their pollina up to eight feet from the plant. The female flower can be seen with the male pollina in it's stigmatic cavity [see#1 in photo]. The male flower in the upper right of the picture shows that it has ejected it's pollina [see#2 in photo], first in that it is missing it's pollinarium and second by the limp colorless look of the flower in general as compared to the flower below [see #3 in photo]
The next photo shows a dried female flower [See #2 in photo] 1 day after a successful encounter with a male pollina, next to a non impregnated flower [see#3 in photo]. Note the swollen ovary [#1 in the photo] which is actually the stem of the flower. Here is where the seed will develop and in 3-4 months the seed will be mature and the capsule will dry and break open spilling the seed to the wind.
The vast majority of plants for sale are hybrids that some breeder dreamed up and made a reality. The resulting progeny from the union of two different species (known as a primary hybrid), or of a species and a hybrid, or of two hybrids (known as a complex hybrid). Typically easier to tend to as growing conditions along with the appearance of the flower are considered in the hybrid process.
A collection of Catasetum related links to items of interest found on the Internet, that do not fit in any of the three main catagories.
Catasetum, abbreviated as Ctsm in horticultural trade, is a genus of showy epiphytic Orchids, family (Orchidaceae), subfamily Epidendroideae, tribe Cymbidieae, subtribe Catasetinae, with 166 species, many of which are highly prized in horticulture.
The cultural information below is a generalization and will apply in most situations; however each grower and growing environment is different. I encourage you to make adjustments based on your experience and growing conditions.
Catasetinae have a distinctive growth and rest period (dormancy). For best plant growth it is important to understand and respect these growth phases. When the plants are in active growth maintain constant root zone moisture and fertilize regularly. This is essential to optimizing the development of new growth. When the plants are dormant little or no water is needed as the pseudobulbs store enough moisture and nutrients to survive the dormancy.
Catasetinae plant culture is not difficult. All it takes is an understanding of the seasonal growth patterns. The plants vegetative state signals to the grower their changing needs. Interpret the signals and make the appropriate cultural adjustments. Here is what to look for:
The Sub-tribe Catasetinae includes the Genera Catasetum, Clowesia, Cycnoches, Dressleria, and Mormodes. Culture of Dressleria even though once included in the genus Catasetum is different. Do not try to grow Dressleria species using these suggestions.
The plants of Tribe Catasetinae are widespread in lowland tropical areas of South and Central America up to elevations of about 1200-1500 meters. Most of the discussion which follows pertains particularly to Catasetum a genus with 80-120 species. The plants can generally be found growing on trees, tree stumps, or old fence posts. The plants are weedy and tend to be fairly abundant once you find the first plant or plants.
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