Habitat: Brazil. Laelia tenebrosa is found growing in the coastal state of Esprito Santo in forests on tree trunks and branches. It is rare and near extinction in its native habitat.
Plant Size: Medium to Large. The slightly compressed pseudobulbs of Laelia tenebrosa reach about 12 inches in height and have a single leathery leaf that reaches about one foot long. Overall, the plant is similar in size and form to Laelia purpurata or a unifoliate cattleya.
Flower Size: Large. 6 1/2 inches (16 cm).
Flower Description: Fragrant. Except for the color, it is similar to Laelia purpurata. The petals range from a dull olive-green to a dull yellow. In the best cultivated specimens, the color approaches copper or bronze. One source describes the flower as the color of raw silk. The lip is tubular and purple in color. The throat is darker than the wavy front part of the lip. Flowers emerge from a green sheath and there are usually three or four at a time. Unfortunately, the flowers are short-lived.
Bloom Season: Spring, Summer (June to August).
Growing Temperature: Intermediate to Warm
Additional Information: Laelia tenebrosa is quite showy with striking flowers and is closely related to Laelia purpurata and Laelia xanthina. The plant and flowers show a close affinity to several of the unifoliate Cattleya species. There are several awarded clones available for purchase. This species has been extensively used to create yellow and art shade cattleya hybrids.
Laelia tenebrosa is quite vigorous and easy to grow for the average hobbyist. Grow under intermediate temperature conditions. Water heavily during the period of active growth (usually early autumn to midwinter in the U.S.). Keep on the dry side after flowering until new growth begins again. This species need a little less light than unifoliate cattleyas.
Synonyms: Hadrolaelia tenebrosa; Laelia grandis var. tenebrosa; Sophronitis tenebrosa