Cattleya (Queen of Orchids; Corsage Orchid)

Known as the “Queen of Orchids”, Cattleya is said to have about 150 species and many cultivated varieties. These species belong to the family Orchidaceae, and are native to tropical America where they thrive in humid environment.
Cattleyas are one of the most recognizable Orchids due to their size, color and overall beauty. They produce exotic and unique flowers which often bloom in spring and summer and come in a variety of colors. These tropical, epiphytic orchids are often showy and fragrant, and always garner attention. They look great in any settings, no matter what time of year it is.

Name meaning

The genus was named after William Cattley (1788-1835), a British horticulturist and merchant who was the first individual to successfully grow Cattleya outside of its native range.

The common name Corsage Orchid comes from the fact that fashionable women used to wear them as a floral accessory for their clothes back in days.

Cattleya symbolism

Cattleya represents fertility, beauty and love.

Orchids in general are rich in symbolism and history. Have a look at this article if you want to know more about the history, meaning and symbolism of orchids.

Interesting facts about Cattleya

Different Varieties of Cattleya

There are many types and varieties within the Cattleya genus, and finding the best variety for your needs might not be the easiest task.

Some of the most popular varieties include Cattleya labiata, Cattleya iricolor, Cattleya mossiae, Cattleya percivaliana and Cattleya schroederae.

Based on the number of leaves on top of each pseudobulb, Cattleya orchids can be divided into two groups:

  • Unifoliate Cattleya Orchids
    Unifoliate Cattleya Orchids usually produce larger flowers and only one big leaf per pseudobulb.
    This group of orchids include Cattleya labiata,  Cattleya iricolor, Cattleya mossiae, Cattleya mendellii, Cattleya warscewiczii, Cattleya dowiana and Cattleya percivaliana.
    These species are generally found growing in Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela and Panama.
  • Bifoliate Cattleya Orchids
    Bifoliate Cattleyas have smaller flowers in clusters of five to twenty per stem, and have two to four leaves per pseudobulb.
    Members of this group include Cattleya bicolor, Cattleya amethystoglossa, Cattleya elongata and Cattleya harrisoniana.
    They can be found growing in Brazil and Mexico.

Is Cattleya an Epiphyte?

Cattleya is an epiphyte, which means it grows non-parasitically upon or attached to another plant, without drawing nutrients from it. It only uses the host plant as structure to grow on.

Cattleya in South America

Cattleyas originate from Central and South America, and grow well in warm, tropical climates. They are widely distributed in tropical rainforests of South America, where they grow clinging to tree trunks and along the branches.

They are found at lower elevations, but can also be present at higher elevations from 600 m (2.000 ft) to nearly 1.500 m (5.000 ft) above sea level.

Cattleya is the national flower of several South American countries such as Brazil (Cattleya Labiata), Colombia (Cattleya Trianae) and Costa Rica (Cattleya Skinneri).

Cattleya Plant Data