Brassia Orchids, the Spider Orchids

Brassia Orchids, the Spider Orchids


Fast Facts Brassia Orchids

Botanical Name: Brassia (BRASS–ee-ah)
Abbreviation: Brs.
Common Name: Spider orchid
Family: Orchidaceae
: Epidendroideae
Tribe:  Cymbidieae
Subtribe: Oncidiinae
Number of recognized species: 34 to 38 recognized orchid species 
Origin:  Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean area of Surinam, Brazil, and Bolivia.
Blooming season: Summer 
Color:  Brassia orchid plants can have flowers in spotted, bright orange, yellow, white, red, and other vibrant shades.
Growing classification:  Epiphytes

Origin and History of Brassia Orchids

Brassia orchid genus was first officially described by Scottish botanist, Robert Brown, in 1813.

Composed of 34 to 38 recognized orchid species (varies depending on source), these orchid plants are native to parts of tropical America, such as Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean area, to Surinam, Brazil, and Bolivia. Brassia orchids are true blue tropical orchids that thrive in the rainforests of the Peruvian Andes Mountains.

He named the genus after William Brass, Esq., an esteemed botanical illustrator who collected the orchid plants for Sir Joseph Banks, an English naturalist, botanist, and patron of the natural sciences, in Guinea and South Africa. However, Brassia orchids are more popularly known as spider orchids because of the odd shape of its blooms that bear similarities with the insect.

Brown used Brassia maculate as the type species for the orchid genus.

Brassia Orchid Plant Description

Brassia orchid plants are epiphytes or kinds of plants that grow while anchored on other plants. It has a raceme kind of inflorescence with few to many flowers. They can sometimes produce two spikes per bulb.

Their orchid blooms are often large and come in spotted white, yellow, and light brown. Some sources say its orchid hybrids can bloom in vibrant shades of blotched orange, green, red. Flowers can last for many weeks and should be staked or supported properly.

Aptly nicknamed as spider orchids, they have extraordinarily long tepals that spread out like legs. This orchid plant can grow up to 50 centimeters tall.

How Brassia Orchids Are Pollinated

One of the most strangely interesting thing about Brassia orchids is the way they are pollinated. It is widely pollinated by a specific kind of wasp, the female members of the Pepsis and Campsomeris genera.

The lady wasps sting the column of the orchid plant almost trying to take it off and devour it. They do this stinging and tugging at the column and lip again and again, which results to the pollina sticking to their head. When they fly to another flower, the pollina falls off their head and enters the stigma of the plant.

List of Brassia Orchids Species

  • Brassia angusta Lindl. 1844
  • Brassia arachnoidea Barb. Rodr. 1877
  • Brassia arcuigera Rchb.f 1869
  • Brassia aurorae D.E.Benn. 1992
  • Brassia bidens Lindley 1844
  • Brassia brunnea Archila 1999
  • Brassia caudata (L.) Lindl. 1824
  • Brassia cauliformis C.Schweinf. 1946
  • Brassia chloroleuca Barb. Rodr. 1877
  • Brassia cochleata Knowles & Westc. 1838
  • Brassia cyrtopetala Schltr. 1912
  • Brassia filomenoi Schltr. 1921
  • Brassia forgetiana Sander 1910
  • Brassia gireoudiana Rchb. f. & Warsz. 1854
  • Brassia jipijapensis Dodson & N.H. Williams
  • Brassia koehlerorum Schltr. 1921
  • Brassia lanceana Lindley 1835
  • Brassia macrostachya Lindl. 1838
  • Brassia maculata R. Brown 1813
  • Brassia neglecta Rchb. f. 1856
  • Brassia pascoensis D.E.Benn. & Christenson 2001
  • Brassia peruviana Poepp. & Endl. 1838
  • Brassia pumila Lindley 1845
  • Brassia rhizomatosa Garay & Dunst. 1965
  • Brassia signata Rchb. f. 1881
  • Brassia suavissima Pupulin & Bogarín 2005
  • Brassia thyrsodes Rchb. f. 1868
  • Brassia transamazonica D.E.Benn. & Christenson 2001
  • Brassia verrucosa Lindley 1840
  • Brassia villosa Lindl. 1854
  • Brassia wageneri Rchb. f. 1845
  • Brassia warszewiczii Rchb. f. 1852

Orchid Care: How to Grow Brassia Orchids

As a tropical orchid, growing your own Brassia orchid plant in Los Angeles is possible. Experts recommend simulating rainforest conditions for your spider orchids to thrive and feel truly at home.

Follow these orchid care tips for your Brassia orchids:

  • How much light does Brassia orchid need?
    Brassia orchids come from shady rainforests, so partial sunlight is highly recommended. As is true for most orchid plants, exposure to direct sunshine can burn or wilt its flowers and leaves.
  • How much and how frequent is its watering requirement?
    Brassia orchids are used to a very moist environment. Water every two days and mist every morning. Never allow it to completely dry out.
  • Temperature and humidity
    Orchids from the Brassia genus bloom better in warm tropical conditions. If you live somewhere where it’s bitter cold, this type of orchid is obviously not for you.
  • Should I feed my orchid?
    Most orchid plants will do great with regular fertilization using a balanced orchid fertilizer at 20-20-20 ratio. The American Orchid Society reiterates the benefits of feeding your orchid weekly, weakly or in diluted portions.
  • How to pot Brassia orchids?

Brassia orchids are epiphytes, so they can be mounted on trees or barks. They also look stunning in hanging pots filled with well-draining orchid potting material, such as sphagnum moss or orchid bark mix.

Want to try your knack growing or taking care of orchid plants or flowers? Orchid Republic offers a wide range of floral subscriptions and same-day flower delivery in Los Angeles and Orange County.


Orchids A to Z, American Orchid Society
Brassia, Jay's Internet Orchid Species 


Leave a comment