Dracula sp.

About Dracula sp.

Common Name | Dracula Orchid

Family Name | Orchidaceae

Native to | South Mexico to Peru

One might assume that the name is a reference to Count Dracula, but in Latin, Dracula literally means ‘little dragon’. When fully open, the flower resembles a dragon’s face.

The genus was founded in 1978 by Carlyle Luer, and about 118 species are currently described. Found in tropical cloud forests between 300 and 2,800 meters in elevation, Dracula orchids are a remarkable example of mimicry. Mimicry is an adaptation that allows an organism to look like another plant or animal, or in this case, a fungus. Dracula flowers use visual cues in their patterned calyx, a showy labellum, and smelly chemical signals to mimic mushrooms and attract mushroom-associated flies.

In our very own Highlands Gallery, you can experience these beautiful beings smiling down at you from our hanging vines, which the horticulturalists have cleverly named Vlad the Vine and Elvira the Vine.