Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Horticultural Interpreter.
Small and highly decorative, the jewel orchid is aptly named. It has attractive, dark-greenish-red leaves, marked with contrasting, pale veins. Spikes of small, pure-white and lightly fragrant flowers appear for a few weeks each winter.
Known as a terrestrial orchid, it grows naturally in the soil of the rainforest floor—unlike the majority of tropical orchids, which grow in nooks and crannies on trees—and, because of this, it prefers shady locations. (Very little sunlight reaches to the ground in the forest.) Too much sunlight will cause the foliage to turn pale and can even cause it to burn.
The genus Ludisia contains only this one species, Ludisia discolor, and is native to the jungles of Southeast Asia. See it blooming in our Tropical House, the left wing of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, just to the left of the steps as you enter the Tropical House.