Former Name: Encyclia cochleata
Common Names: Shell Orchid
Habit: Prosthechea cochleata
grow as an epiphyte on trees or among leaf detritus and rocks. It
produces a very short rhizomatous stem that is covered with secondary
stems that are expanded to form elongate pseudobulbs up to 20 cm in
length. From the top of the pseudobulb 1-3 flattened linear leaves
emerge that are up to 25 cm in length. The pseudobulb is flattened
along its axis.
The zygomorphic flowers are arranged in
lax racemes up to 12 cm in height and contain 1-12 flowers. The
flowers have bracts and are non-resupinate with the labellum to the
top of the flower. The calyx has 3 greenish yellow sepals. The
corolla has 3 petals with 1 forming the labellum. The labellum forms
a hood 2 cm in height and width that surrounds the green and purple
column. The hood is a dark purple/red with light green lines on it.
The ovary is inferior. The fruit is a 3 lobed/sided hanging capsule
at maturity up to 4 cm in length that opens along six suture lines
and hangs allowing wind to assist in seed dispersal.
Habitat: Prosthechea cochleata
grows in trees above wet sinkholes in Dry Broadleaf Evergreen
Formation – Forests (coppice).
Distribution in Bahamas/Globally:
Prosthechea cochleata occurs in the northern pine islands as well
as Florida, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
While there are no medicinal uses of Prosthechea cochleata
like all orchids they are prized for their beautiful flowers. ALL
orchids are protected internationally by the Convention on the
International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and should not be
collected from the wild.