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Catasetum spitzii has a fairly widespread distribution in Central Brazil. Its habitats are deciduous forests,
where the plants grow mostly on Tabebuia species, and the plants can also be found growing on palm
trees that are abundant on grasslands. On that sort of habitat, subject to intense light and a very well marked
dry season, female flowers are produced in abundance, and usually before the male inflorescences thus almost certainly
insuring cross-pollination on each individual plant. The female flowers are of the usual helmet-lipped type, but
the male flowers are very distinctive. These have fleshy and wide heart-shaped lips that are fairly flat and up
to almost 2" across. Like in most Catasetum species, flower colors vary widely, and here they go from
apple green to greenish-yellow, bright yellow, orange-yellow, suffused with red markings to completely red. Female
flowers are produced in large quantities on strong, upright inflorescences, and can stay open for up to one month.
Male flowers, on the other hand, are produced on arching inflorescences and last for a lot less time, maybe a week
or so. Considering relationships in the genus, the most closely related species to Catasetum spitzii
are C. trulla, C.
kleberianum and C. vinaceum, especially the latter. Catasetum
vinaceum has smaller flowers with
lips that are not so flat (rather, more cup-like) and have a not so far to the west distribution range, whereas
C. trulla is a coastal species, distributed a good distance apart to the south. Catasetum kleberianum, on the other hand, occurs in the Amazonas State, in the heart of the Amazon Region. Catasetum spitzii is one of the showiest species in the genus, and plants flower in the Fall, after the new
growths have finished their development. The species is very easy to grow, under warm conditions, when the dry
period after flowering and throughout the Winter is respected.
Distribution Map for Catasetum spitzii.
Like for most Catasetum species, it is very difficult to precisely delimit its distribution,
mainly because Central Brazil is vast and there are not real physical barriers to promote range containment. That
said, it is very possible that the species can be found in Mato-Grosso and Mato-Grosso do Sul States, and even
in Tocantins and Minas Gerais. The species is very common around and to the west and east of Goiania.
||On 1, we see the
typical habitat of Catasetum spitzii, growing on large trees of Tabebuia. The
plants are so well adapted to grow under these conditions that it is not unusual to find individual plants more
than 1 ft. across. Here we see a typical female inflorescence with its thick, upright rachis.
On 2, we see a closer view of one of these plants, this time with a male flower. It is very
unusual to see inflorescences with just one flower, but then again when we took these pictures female inflorescences
were at their maximum and male inflorescences were just starting to be produced. It is easy to see the amount of
aerial roots these plants produce. This allows the underlying roots to breathe and also attaches the plants extremely
well to the trees.
On 3, we can see a male inflorescence of the species, with very showy flowers. This color form
is the most common in Catasetum spitzii, although as said before, there is a lot of variation in
the species. Male inflorescences can produce up to more than 20 flowers, all open at once.