The name 'speciosa' in common to several other plants and is given because the flower is huge and spectacular. Coelogyne speciosa justly deserves its illustrious tag. Fortunately, it is very commonly grown and freely available. This is because it is an attractive, tough, hardy, easy to grow orchid, popular with both beginners and older hands.

Coelogyne speciosa, being from PNG, Indonesia and Sumatra areas is warm to hot tolerant but is surprisingly tough and grows at altitudes up to 2000 metres. However, don't expose it to frost and keep it moist and humid.

This is an orchid that comes into its own when grown to specimen size (which only takes 4 or 5 years). The plant pictured above often has a dozen or more flowers at once in Spring and has a few most of the year. They open sequentially (one at a time) and each spike only has a few flowers. Each flower lasts several weeks. The total effect is very pleasing.

The flowers show a great range of colour and form variation. Some have very short spikes (as above) while others have quite long stems (up to 30 cm) supporting a number of sequentially opening flowers. Flowers can have almost white sepals through to darkish green and the lip colour and keel structure varies enormously.

This has led to much taxonomic debate (as well as discussion among growers) and there is still much more to do. Barbara Gravendeel in Holland has initiated detailed research into Coelogyne speciosa, backed by extensive DNA analysis. There are about 16 very closely related species in the same taxonomic Coelogyne subgroup (Speciosae) as is Coelogyne speciosa. However, the old adage, "a rose is but a rose..." applies to all gardeners. Just admire them and let the scientists do their work.

Negatives: Because it comes from monsoonal rain areas, the flowers face downwards to prevent the rain washing the pollen onto its own stigma and causing self-pollination. This may be a clever trick on the part of the plant but it means that the plant should be in a hanging basket so that the flowers can be appreciated to their fullest.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Sometimes sold as: Mainly variety names - see below.

Varieties: This can be a sea of confusion! Some are 'recognised' as sub-species and others as varieties. Some common examples are:

  • subspecies speciosa
  • subspecies carinata
  • subspecies fimbriata
  • variety (var.) 'Green'
  • var. 'Salmonicolour' (now recognised as a separate species - Coelogyne salmonicolor)

In addition there are many more colour variations where growers have crossed one Coel speciosa with another in attempts to get a particular result e.g. a darker lip or more orange colouring, etc. This is called 'outcrossing' and many growers add an extra 'tag' as part of the name of the new resulting plants. In many cases the tag name is not recognised formally by authorities but is still handy in identifying a particular plant. The result of this outcrossing has very much blurred the distinctions between subspecies - more scientific confusion !

Hybrids: There are many Coelogyne speciosa hybrids because of the desirability of combining its large flower characteristics. Also, it is a very easy plant to hybridise. The dark colouring of the lip is a strong trait that passes on and most hybrids also have a slightly 'droopy' flower. Many of the varieties and hybrids are very attractive and desirable but unfortunately many are very difficult to obtain.

1. Coelogyne Colmanii (Colman, 1907) - using Coelogyne cristata as pod parent (i.e. mother) 

2. Coelogyne Gattonense (Colman, 1915) - using Coelogyne sanderiana as pollen parent (i.e. father)

3. Coelogyne speciosa-Colmanii (Colman, 1918) - using Coelogyne Colmanii x speciosa var major

4. Coelogyne Shibata (Shibata 1923) - using Coelogyne flaccida as the pod parent

4. Coelogyne Memoria* Soedjana Kassen (Parnata, 1976) - using Coelogyne asperata as pollen parent

5. Coelogyne Neroli Cannon (Cannon, 1981) - using Coelogyne fragrans as pollen parent

6. Coelogyne Green Magic (Stevenson, 1986) - using Coelogyne parishii as pod parent

7. Coelogyne Memoria* Louis Forget (Sander, 1994)  - using Coelogyne mooreana 'Brockhurst as pollen parent

8. Coelogyne Andrea Millar (P Spence, 1996) - using Coelogyne beccarii as the pod parent

9. Coelogyne Danielle de Prins (De Prins, 2001) - using Coelogyne fimbriata as the pollen parent

10. Coelogyne Shinjuku (Suwada, 2001) (Shiniku, 2001) - using Coelogyne cumingii as pollen parent

11. Coelogyne Memoria* Sadako (Shiniku, 2001) - using Coelogyne Intermedia as pollen parent (Coelogyne Intermedia is under a credibility cloud!)

12. Coelogyne Memoria* Tokiko (Shiniku, 2001) - using Coelogyne Shinjuku (contains Coel speciosa) and Coelogyne lawrenceana as pollen parent

13. Coelogyne Rebecca Howe (Howe, 2002) - using Coelogyne rumphii as pollen parent

14. Coelogyne Carolyn Sue (Pruyn, 2001) - using Coelogyne trinervis as pollen parent

15. Coelogyne Taicia (Vacherot, 2003) - using Coelogyne lawrenceana as the pod parent

16. Coelogyne Lyme Bay (Burnham Nursery, 2006) - using Coelogyne usitana 'Chelsea' as the pod parent

17. Coelogyne Kirribilli Joyce (Kevin Dawes, 2013) - using Coelogyne xyrekes as the pollen parent

18. Coelogyne Kirribilli Lynette (Kevin Dawes, 2013) - using Coel assamica as the pollen parent

19. Coelogyne Kirribilli Norm (Kevin Dawes, 2014) - using Coel carinata as the pollen parent

20. Coelogyne Linnea (M Karge Pilhard, 2013) - using Coelogyne salmonicolor as the pod parent.

21. Coelogyne Kirribilli James (Kevin Dawes, 2015) - using Coelogyne huettneriana as the pollen parent

22. Coelogyne Kirribilli Ray (Kevin Dawes, 2015) -  using Coelogyne marmorata as the pollen parent.

23. Coelogyne Lentil Soup - using Coelogyne lentiginosa as the pollen parent (K Karge Orchideengarten - Aug 2015).

24. Coelogyne Orchideengarten Sabine - using a primary hybrid, Coelogyne Memoria Wilhelm Micholitz, as the pollen parent (K Karge Orchideengarten - Aug 2015).

25. Coelogyne Kirribilli Raelene - using Coelogyne celebensis as the pollen parent (Kevin Dawes - Nov 2016).

26. Coelogyne Kirribilli Gladys Davies - using Coelogyne eberhardtii as the pod parent (Kevin Dawes Jan 2017).

27. Coelogyne Kirribilli Ezekiel - using Coelogyne flexuosa as the pod parent - registered June 2019 by Kevin Dawes.

28. Coelogyne Curly Dancer - using Coelogyne chloroptera as the pod parent - registered 2020 by K. Akutsu

29. Coelogyne White Moon - using hybrid Coelogyne Day Dream as the pod parent - registered 2020 by K. Akutsu

* Memoria denotes that the plant has been named to honour the memory of a deceased person.

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