Epidendrum nocturnum

Epidendrum nocturnum Jacq.

Common Names: Night Scented Orchid

Family: Orchidaceae

Habit: Epidendrum nocturnum grows as an epiphyte on tree branches. It produces a very short rhizomatous stem that is covered with secondary stems to 50 cm in height. The 2-ranked leaves are arranged alternately on the secondary stem, linear, to 15 cm in length, with an entire margin.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in terminal, few flowered, short racemes. Flowers are produced in summer and fall.  The calyx has 3 partially fused, greenish-white elongate sepals; 2 lateral and 1 below. There are 3 partially fused yellowish-white, elongate petals. Sepals and petals to 8 cm in length and 4 mm wide. The labellum is fused, white, 3 lobed. The column is white and elongate.  The ovary is inferior and the fruit is a hanging capsule at maturity up to 4 cm in length.

Habitat: Epidendrum nocturnum grows on branches as an epiphyte in Mangroves and extremely wet Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Forests (coppice) areas over sinkholes.

Distribution: Epidendrum nocturnum occurs on the northern island groupings of the Lucayan Archipelago, the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico, Central and northern South America.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: While there are no medicinal uses of Epidendrum nocturnum 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.