Platystele sp. Fortuna, Panama

by Chuck Nishihira

I have to admit that with time it is harder and harder for me to appreciate many of the Platystele species without some sort of aid.  Still my love for this genus as a whole grows.  The almost impossibly tiny flowers are alluring and always make me pause.  While this species is not a “giant” like P. calantha or P. posadarum, it is large enough to easily enjoy even if you have older eyes.  In the Fortuna area of Panama is was not uncommon to come across small colonies.  I was actually hoping to find flowering plants of Brachionidium folsomii to photograph.  I wasn’t so successful in finding any, so I was happy to stumble across the first colony of this species.  It was interesting to note that the lip colored varied a bit from one individual to the next. The crystalline qualities of the sepals and petals was very consistent. The leaves of this orchid are under 1/2″ and the flowers…if you count the caudae, were just a little smaller.