In the Guatemalan highlands it was sunrise and the birds were so loud it woke us up! It was already warm and the cicadas started up before we even had our coffee. We heard one of our team members yelling and we all bolted up out of our tents to see what was up. We all gathered around a huge clump Myrmecophila tibicinis if full bloom! The plant had completely engulfed an old dead tree. It had at least twenty flower spikes most of which were 15’ long! The psuedobulbs were 18” long and the there must have been 100 of them! It was simply amazing to see the scale of this orchid. One of our members climbed up in the dead tree to give scale to photos we were all taking and all of a sudden they leapt out of the tree howling in pain, slapping and rolling madly on the ground. We of course erupted in laughter at our colleague’s misfortune as we helped brush off the legions of stinging ants.
Myrmecophila tibicinis, the “Trumpet orchid” is a giant sized, warm to hot growing epiphyte that is found from southern Mexico down to Colombia in seasonally dry deciduous forests on trunks and larger branches often in full sun at elevations of 300 to 600 meters. It has huge, 18" psuedobulbs that are hollow and provide a home for ants in a symbiotic relationship in which the ants provide protection for the plant in return for housing. These plants bloom in March or April and can be grown with year round watering although it is better to give less through the winter. Myrmecophila tibicinis must be mounted on a large wood mount as they do not like to be disturbed, and it does not take long for them to cover a branch as they are a vigorous grower. They have up to 15' [450 cm] long, erect, paniculate spikes with the successively opening, fragrant flowers in a cluster at the apex. The dried pseudobulbs of this species can be fashioned to make a trumpet to call the children home from their playtime hence the common name. This is definitely one of the coolest orchids on the planet! Huge psuedobulbs and a stunningly exotic flower makes this group of orchids a must have for any serious collector. Plants sold in 4”pot $87.00