Euchile citrina (La Llave & Lex.) Withner 1998


Basionym: Sobralia citrina La Llave & Lexarza
Cattleya citrina (La Llave & Lexarza) Lindley
Epidendrum citrinum (La Llave & Lexarza) Reichenbach f.
Encyclia citrina (La Llave & Lexarza) Dressler
Cattleya karwinskii Mart.

Common name(s): Yellow Serpent; Hiaj gukuan ma hiaj a (Oaxaca); bocabajo (Oaxaca)
Derivation/Pronunciation: yu-KI-leesih-TREEN-ah
Genus name hails from the Encyclia section from whence it was elevated, with the Greek Eu prefix meaning "true" and chilo meaning "lip." The species name refers to the yellow color.
Plant: Epiphytic; normally pendant plants and flowers; ovoid pseudobulbs, 4-6 cm in length, 2-3 cm wide, commonly covered by a persistent papery sheath (note: do not remove this sheath); leaves: silvery-green, 2-4 per pseudobulb, elliptical, acute or closely obtuse, 18-25 cm in length, 2-4 cm wide. The foliage is very noticeably glaucous, with a fine powdery "film" over the leaves.
Flowers: Inflorescence: 6-10 cm in length, 1-2 large (5-6.5 cm) hanging flowers on each; blooms are pale yellow to canary yellow or almost orange; fleshy sepals and petals are elliptical, 5-6.5 cm in length, 1.5-2 cm wide; petals are similar but a little bit wider; lip more or less of the same length, with darker veins and ruffled texture, united with the column at the base. Lip is somewhat variable and may be lighter or darker than the petals and sepals. See illustrations below.
Fragrant: Yes. Flowers emit a strong lemony fragrance.
Bloomtimes: Late winter to spring.
Epiphytic in dry oak or pine forests, 1300-2600m.


      • Guerrero: Leonardo Bravo.
      • Jalisco: Mascota.
      • Michoacán: Madero.
      • Oaxaca: Mpio. San Pedro Juchatengo, Santo Domingo Albarradas, Dto. Teposcolula.

Culture: Bright light (grow with Cattleya) and plenty of air movement; give ample water, but let dry between waterings; intermediate to cool temperatures. Grows well mounted or in slat basket.
Other Notes: The flowers are used as decorative elements in religious ceremonies in its native range.

Plants may be upright or pendant, but the flowers are always pendant. The botanical illustration at left, depicting a nonresupinate flower, shows how early botanists misunderstood the pendant nature of these flowers, and thus misrepresented their growth habit.

Flowers are golden yellow with varying degrees of white crenulations in the lip. Here is a form with a lot of white in the lip.

Photo at right by Libor Jankovsky of the Botanická Zahrada Arboretum at the Mendelova Zemedelská a Lesnická Univerzita in the Czeck Republic.

Here is an intermediate form with only a white border the very tip of the lip.

Photos by Joseph Dougherty.

Plants may exhibit darker lips and petal tips, as shown at right. This form has a longer, more deeply veined lip.

Photo by Andy Phillips.



  • The Cattleyas and Their Relatives vol. 5; Carl L. Withner; Timber Press 1998. pg.137-140.
  • Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species; Bechtel, Cribb & Launert; MIT press 1992; pg. 180
  • The Genus Encyclia in Mexico; Dressler & Pollard; Asociacion Mexicana de Orquideologia 1976; pg. 82
  • An Introduction to the Orchids of Mexico; Leon A. Wiard; Cornell Univ. 1987; pg. 57


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last modified: November 29, 2002 by Joseph Dougherty

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