Prosthechea cochleata

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Prosthechea cochleata
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Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Genus: Prosthechea
Species: P. cochleata
Binomial name
Prosthechea cochleata
(L.) W.E.Higgins

Prosthechea cochleata, formerly known as Encyclia cochleata, Anacheilium cochleatum, and Epidendrum cochleatum and commonly referred to as the clamshell orchid[1] or cockleshell orchid, is an epiphytic, sympodial New World orchid native to Central America, the West Indies, Colombia, Venezuela, and southern Florida.[2]

Each oblong discoid pseudobulb bears one or two linear nonsucculent leaves. The flowers are unusual in that though the labellum is usually below the column in the orchids, in the members of Prosthechea the labellum forms a "hood" over the column. This makes the flower effectively upside down, or non-resupinate. Whereas the species usually has one anther, Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra is an endangered variety that has three anthers and is autogamous, allowing its existence in Florida where no appropriate pollinators appear to be present.[3]

P. cochleata is common in cultivation, and is valued for its uniquely shaped and long-lasting flowers on continually growing racemes. Several hybrids have been produced with this species, including the popular Prosthechea Green Hornet.[4] (still often listed as Encyclia Green Hornet)

Prosthechea cochleata is the national flower of Belize, where it is known as the black orchid.[5]


  1. ^ "Prosthechea cochleata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  2. ^ Encyclia cochleata
  3. ^ Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra in Flora of North America @
  4. ^ Prosthechea Green Hornet at Royal Horticultural Society Orchid Register
  5. ^ "National Symbols". Government of Belize. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-04-06.

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