When they bloom, these rare orchids resemble monkey faces.

Monkey orchids are actually a whole family. And they all look like monkeys.

It looks as if mother nature had some primates in mind when coming up with these unique flowers. The Dracula genus of orchids – more often referred to as the “Monkey Orchid” – is a family with more than 110 different varieties with an uncanny resemblance to monkey heads. Most of Dracula Orchid Simia specimen have been discovered at the mountainous rain-forests of southern Ecuador and Peru.

The “monkey species” was christened by botanist Carlyle A. Lueren in 1978. Dracula simia translates to “little dragon monkey”, referencing its long fang like petals. Despite the obvious resemblance to monkeys, the flowers are actually fragrant with the scent of a ripe orange.

These exotic flowers thrive in deep shade, love humidity, and, contrary to what one might think, prefer cold temperatures. Thinking about growing your own? Well, before you start, here are the facts:

It is indeed possible to find vendors selling Dracula seeds online. However, please be advised that cultivating these seeds isn’t advised for orchid newcomers. Monkey orchid seeds are almost like dust and require specialized care in order to grow properly. And even in the optimal conditions, it will take anywhere from three to eight years for them to reach blooming size.

Dracula saulii. Photo: Wikia

If you feel that you have the know-how and can provide the proper environment, these are some Dracula orchids that are easier to grow: Dracula erythrocheateDracula bella, and Dracula cordobae.

Just be sure to purchase seeds from a reputable dealer, as there are many scammers advertising monkey orchid seeds online.

Photo: A.P. Sijm. Swiss Orchid Foundation at the Herbarium Jany Renz. Botanical Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland.

But hey, why would nature make a specific group of orchids look like monkeys? We don’t really know, but there’s definitely a pattern and it’s beautiful to discover.

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