Cattleya eldorado

Cattleya eldorado
is one of the species in the C. labiata group. Although the group is widespread in Colombia and Venezuela, there are only a few species in Brazil. In fact, only three or four, depending if Cattleya luteola is considered to be part of the group or not. Although Cattleya labiata and C. warneri are very similar between them and to most of the species of the group, C. eldorado is very distinctive and easily separated. In terms of morphology, the plants are very distinctive. They are somewhat compact and have a very rustic appearance with hard pseudobulbs and leaves with flattened and rough surfaces. The flowers usually have petals with strong midribs and sepals with reflexed borders at their basal half. The lateral sepals also tend to be strongly convergent, sometimes almost parallel. The lip has a somewhat fringed border. Colorwise, the flowers are basically light to medium pink and the lip has a darker lavender front lobe. There is a lot of variation on the amount and intensity of this lavender color, and despite this variation an unique and always present feature in Cattleya eldorado flowers is the golden yellow-orange inside the tube. Even the albinos, with their pure white flowers, have this intense golden-yellow color inside the lip. When the flowers open, this yellow color is actually greenish-yellow, and as the flowers age it turns to yellow and finally to yellow-orange. The flowers are on average a bit smaller than the ones in Cattleya labiata, and have a very distinctive and pleasant fragrance. Flowering season is not very well marked and varies from year to year. Usually there is a blooming peak around November and a second, more intense blooming period between January and March. The blooming season seems to be strongly influenced by rainfall and that could be the reason why it varies a lot from one year to another.

Distribution Map of Cattleya eldorado. The species may occur out of the marked area, but in very small quantities.

Cattleya eldorado has a somewhat restricted distribution area, being found only in the Central Amazon near Manaus. It can be found growing on big tall trees at the margins of small river (igarapés) but it is really abundant in the more or less open vegetation that grows on sandy soil patches (these are called Central Amazon Campinas). The species has been subject to a lot of pressure not so much by collecting but instead by the rampant destruction of their habitat. White sand is a very valuable resource in the Amazon, and in high demand in the central region. Artificial propagation has helped the availability of the species in cultivation.
Cattleya eldorado Habitat Cattleya eldorado alba Habitat
Cattleya eldorado Habitat Cattleya eldorado in the habitat. We can see that the plants are growing low on the trees, in some cases really close to the ground. This is something possible as light can pass with high intensity through the open branches of the trees and associated vegetation.

Clockwise from top left, we see the typical color form of the species, then an alba form growing very close to the ground and finally a slightly darker individual growing at about eye level.

The leaves and pseudobulbs are quite frequently more or less covered with lichens, which once again denotes that these areas are subject to alternate dry and wet periods.

Cattleya eldorado flammea Cattleya eldorado flammea
Cattleya eldorado flammea A few different individuals of Cattleya eldorado flammea. This is a color form that is very desirable due to the striking color contrast. A lot of work is being done with artificial propagation of these forms so they are recently becoming more available. In nature though, it is extremely rare to find these splash-patterned forms. In contrast, regular color variation in the habitat is fairly common, alba and concolor forms being fairly plentiful for example.