On display now in Selby Garden’s tropical Conservatory are a number of exquisite specimens of Bulbophyllum medusae, a spidery white epiphytic orchid from Southeast Asia. Their extravagant blossoms do not last for long, but the impression they leave on their admirers is indelible. A most unusual looking orchid, this species flaunts numerous tight clusters of delicate white flowers with pendant filament-like petals. Considered to be one of the most elegant species in the orchid genus Bulbophyllum, the Medusa orchid’s preference for shady conditions and rapid growth rate make it a good orchid for home orchid hobbyists, although some find the odd fragrance of the flowers to be objectionable.
First described in 1842, the Medusa orchid’s natural habitat is in the forest canopy of the steamy tropical rainforests of the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, and Borneo. The species and common name of this remarkable orchid is a reference of the way the flowers are reminiscent of the gorgon Medusa of Greek mythology. The striking Medusa orchids will only be blooming for a short time, so make sure to see them while they are on display.