Dracula (plant)

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Dracula orchids
Dracula vampira 3.jpg
Dracula vampira
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Pleurothallidinae
Genus: Dracula
Luer, 1978
Type species
Masdevallia chimaera (syn of Dracula chimaera)
Rchb. f.

See text

The orchid genus Dracula, abbreviated as Drac in horticultural trade, consists of 118 species native to Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.[1] The name Dracula literally means "little dragon", an allusion to the mythical Count Dracula, a lead character in numerous vampire novels and films.[2][3] The name was applied to the orchid because of the blood-red color of several of the species, the strange aspect of the long spurs of the sepals.[4] The plants were once included in the genus Masdevallia, but became a separate genus in 1978. This genus has been placed in the subtribe Pleurothallidinae.


These epiphytic and terrestrial species are distributed in Central America and the northwest Andes, almost half in Ecuador alone. They prefer shadow and an even, rather cold, temperature.

These caespitose orchids grow in tufts from a short rhizome, with a dense pack of stems. They lack pseudobulbs. On each stems grows one large, thin, plicate leaf with a sharply defined midrib. These glabrous, light to dark green leaves may be spongy, taking over the function of the missing pseudobulb. They are tipped with a mucro (a short tip).

The flower stalks grow either horizontally from the base of the plant or descend, often for great distances. A few species grow upright flower stalks. The long-tailed terminal flowers are basically triangular. The flowers are borne singly or successively. Three species (sodiroi, decussata/neisseniae, and papillosa) may have up to three simultaneously open flowers on a single stalk. In general, though, if there is more than one flower bud on the raceme, they open up with long intervals. These flowers have a weird aspect, due to the long tails on each sepal. The petals are small and somewhat thickened. The lip is often quite large for a Pleurothallid and may resemble a mushroom or fungus. The fleshy basal part of the lip (hypochile) is cleft. The terminal part (epichile) is rounded and concave. The margins of the perianth are often fringed. There is a well-developed column with two pollinia.

(Dracula chestertonii)


The species of Dracula have tentatively been divided into three subgenera, with sections and subsections within one of the subgenera.

  • Subgenus Dracula : This subgenus contains all the species of the genus except two exceptional species (D. sodiroi and D. xenos)
    • Section Andreettaea : Monotypic: Dracula andreettae
    • Section Chestertonia : two species: Dracula chestertonii, D. cutis-bufonis
    • Section Cochliopsia : Monotypic: Dracula cochliops
    • Section Dodsonia : Four species: Dracula dodsonii, D. insolita, D. iricolor, D. portillae
    • Section Dracula : largest section
      • Subsection Costatae : e.g. Dracula bella, D. vespertilio
      • Subsection Dracula :
        • Series Dracula : e.g. Dracula chimaera, D. tubeana, D. vampira
        • Series Grandiflorae-Parvilabiatae : e.g. Dracula gigas, D. platycrater
        • Series Parviflorae : e.g. Dracula houtteana, D. lotax
  • Subgenus Sodiroa : Two Dracula sodiroi, D. erythrocodon
  • Subgenus Xenosia : Monotypic : Dracula xenos

Dracula cordobae
Dracula houtteana
Dracula olmosii
Dracula sodiroi


  • Dracula × anicula (D. cutis-bufonis × D. wallisii) (Colombia).
  • Dracula × radiosyndactyla (D. radiosa × D. syndactyla) (SW. Colombia).


  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Species
  2. ^ McNally, Raymond T.; Florescu, Radu R. (1994). In Search of Dracula, The History of Dracula and Vampires (Completely Revised ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-395-65783-0.
  3. ^ Stoker, Bram. 1897. Dracula. Archibald Constable and Company, Westminster.
  4. ^ Planet Arkive : Dracula orchid Archived May 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.


  • Luer, Carlyle A. 1978: Dracula, a New Genus in the Pleurothallidinae. Selbyana 2: 190-198.
  • Luer, Carlyle A. 1993: Icones Pleurothallidinarum X - Systematics of Dracula. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden Vol. 46.
  • Arkive : Dracula vampira

External links[edit]