I shouldn’t encourage buying plants in supermarkets but sometimes low prices and an exciting offering win me over. A trolley of mixed orchids at 6 euro attracted my attention like a moth to a flame the other day and I was excited to see a phalaenopsis with three lips. There were several of these plants so it is obviously a named cultivar and although I was not overly keen on the colour, it had to come home with me.
Most orchids, and certainly phalaenopsis (moth orchids) have the typical three outer petals (sepals) and two inner petals and a lip. The pedicel (flower stalk) in most orchids, twists through 180 degrees and although the lip is structurally at the top, when open the flower has the lip at the bottom of the flower. The lip is usually highly modified in orchids.
When the ‘lip’ of a flower is multiplied, the flower is called peloric and you can find peloric forms of many flowers, most commonly foxgloves (digitalis).
In this orchid the two inner petals are not absolute copies of the lip so this flower is semi-peloric. I have seen truly peloric phalaenopsis and the three lips make a ‘trumpet’ in the centre of the flowers and don’t appeal to me. As it happens, I am not sure that this one is an improvement on the usual either.
I didn’t stop with just the one though and bought a more normal plant with striking colours too. I like it a lot more. What do you think?