A Pretty Little Jewel Orchid

by Chuck Nishihira
It’s been over a decade and a half since I was fortunate enough to receive some rarities from Andres Maduro of Panama. He was the wonderful gentleman who started Finca Dracula.  Back in the ’90’s I remember talking to him about his attempts to start up a farm to breed dartfrogs.  He had many interests and always was eager to have a conversation.   Sadly, Andres passed away a few years back, but certainly after living a great life. His beautiful and charming garden still exists in Western Panama, and hopefully will for along time to come. They no longer export orchids if I am correct, which is a shame as they shipped out some of the most incredible orchids.  Along with the beautiful terrestrial jewel orchid of this post I received rarities such as Lepanthes pantomima and L. arachnion. I still lament that those two are gone and the only species that I have left is this small (leaves are only about an inch long), but mysterious little jewel orchid.  I guess it is hard to be sad since this species is such a special little orchid.  The taxonomy is difficult and apparently even to distinguish the genera you need to flower them and analyze the column and pollinia. So this could be an Erythrodes, Microchilus, or Platythelys.  Maybe in time I will find out.  But after all these years it has never flowered.  It’s not difficult, but it just slowly takes it’s time growing.  I have tried on a few occasions to propagate it by cutting the stem.  While this works very easily for other terrestrials,  the back end of the stem just seems to slowly wither, never putting up a new growth.  Whatever this species is, it is highly cherish by me due to it’s small size, dark pretty leaves, and most of all because of it’s story.