This term I discovered my new favorite plant but then I found out they only live in Peru. The monkey orchid or Dracula simia exist from south eastern Ecuador and Peru. They live in forests at high elevations of 1000 to 2000m and not much is known about them. They requires high humidity and temperature to thrive.
To be honest when I first say the picture on twitter, I was convinced it was photoshopped.
You only need a little bit of imagination to see why these plants are called what they are. The combination of the column (the gynostemium which is the reproductive structure), the petals and lip (part of the orchid flowers, is a modified petal and used to attract pollinators) looks like a monkey’s face! While doing research, sites listed the reasoning behind the genus, Dracula as two different explanations. Some said that it referred to the two sepals hanging off the bottom petals which look like fangs which would “suck your blood” (said in a Transylvanian accent).Others said it was not named after the famous vampire but that the name translated to “little dragon”. I was unable to find which one was correct but am under the impression that the vampire theory was the one created by general public to make the plant even more mysterious.
When the plant was first named in 1978 which not that long ago as my parents are older than this plant has been named. It was originally placed in the genus Masdevallia but later moved to Dracula. It is an epiphytic plant, which is a plant that grows harmless upon another plant and derives its nutrient from the surrounding air and rain. They are not parasitic plants as they simply use surrounding plants for physical support and does not impact the plant negatively. The monkey orchid grows on branches covered in moss as the moss retains moisture that the plant survives off of.
I also learned you can buy the seeds off of amazon so if any success come while growing them, I’ll update the blog.