Cattleya quadricolor was for a long time known as C. chocoensis.

Few Cattleya have had more names than quadricolor, among them we can find bogotensis, candida, caucaensis. It was described in 1864 by Bateman.

The name chocoensis was probably given by the first orchid collectors to misslead other collectors from its true place of origin. C. quadricolor is the colombian Cattleya with the smallest range of distribution of all, including C. hardyana.

It is found along the Cauca river between the cities of Zarzal and some 5 kilometers north of La Virginia; and along the Rio la Vieja, a subsiadiary of the Cauca river. The plants are mostly found on old trees of Pisamo and Caracolí (Anacardium excelsium) that can reach heights of 60 meters.

It was probably found on other trees but because they are not as high, they are aesier to reach by collectors. It is then a species that has become very uncommon in the wild. Large plants are very rare to find in Collections, however, plants along the Rio La vieja are impressive in size with well over 300 bulbs on the same plant. Plants have always long slender bulbs making this species very similar to C. trianae originating in Cundinamarca.

The most commonly found color is semi alba with four colors, white petals and sepals, pink mauve base of the lip, yelow veins and large purple dot at the tip. Varieties with purple sepals and petals can be found but are rare.

The variety quasi alba is found commonly with some faint mauve color on the throat. Albas varieties are rare. Some splash plants have also been found, the most famous being “Kabuki”, grown by Mr Tsubota for a long time.

Few coeruleas have been found despite wide spread rumors. Many so called coerulea are more similar to light color semi alba than true blue.

An interesting fact about C. quadricolor that separates it from other plants is the ability of being able to roll the leaf without breaking it. Most quadricolor plants are able to do that. This characteristic is unique to this species. If the leaf can be rolled it is a quadricolor, if it can’t, it may or may not be a quadricolor.

C. quadricolor requires very good light for adequate growth. It also requires very good air circulation and warmth throughout the year.

In Collection, it is the most difficult of the colombian Cattleyas to establish. It also requires two seasons of dry weather to bloom.

Blooming takes place during the months of October and April during the rainy periods. Flowers spikes bear generally two flowers occasionally one or three.

Flowers are usually looking down at the ground and generally do not show themselves very well. Clones that have well presented flowes are scarce. The flowers are also very closed (like a bell) and do not open very well. These two characteristics have made this species one of the least desirable for collectors and have also protected the species from going extinct in the wild.

Flowers have also a very pleasant soft aroma that can be detected at noon. This species has also been used for hybridation for its large petals and white coloration. The hybrid between quadricolor and trianae is superb.

Cattleya quadricolor

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Article by: thomas Toulemonde thomas@suamena.com 
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