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Lycaste is one genus in a group of genera that belongs to the sub-tribe Lycastinae. Another in this sub-tribe is Anguloa. Lycaste were introduced to Europe sometime between 1795 and 1800. It was George Ure-Skinner who brought most Lycaste to Europe from 1840 onward, and it was he who introduced the beautiful Lycaste Skinneri. The Lycaste was originally classified in the genus Maximillaria and it was at about 1843 the Lycaste was so named by John Lindley. Classification of the whole group from which Lycaste is associated is complicated and still hotly disputed.

There are 45 species although new Lycastes are still being discovered. Their natural habitat is the north to mid western region of South America. They grow between sea level and 700 feet and are epiphytic with large leaves on oval pseudo-bulbs. There are many stunning flower colours.

Cultivation: A greenhouse is ideal. Compost should be free draining, sphagnum moss and perlite seems to suit them. Plants should be kept on the dry side when the bulb is made up. Tomorite is ideal for feeding, as well as other Orchid feeds. Fresh rainwater should be used with the feed to make up to 300S, with PH of 6. Humidity of 45-55% with 50% shade during the summer months. Oscillating fans also help keep airy conditions, with minimum night temperature of 50-60F.Waterlogging in new growth may cause damage, so care should be taken when misting or watering.

Albert Fetherston