Aspasia, abbreviated as Asp. in horticultural trade, is a genus of 12 species of orchids.
The genus is distributed from tropical Central and South America. Some species are exclusively epiphyte on thick stems of the trees a low height, others live on branches where they get more light and a few occasionally appear as lithophytes.
Aspasia is a genus of comparatively robust plants intermediate of Brassia and Miltonia, to which it is morphologically closer although can be distinguished because its flowers show the labellum partially fused to the column up to the middle then abruptly folded down in a square angle.
They are characterized for often showing am elongated rhyzome, with thicker roots than Miltonia, with more elliptical or elongated and highly laterally flattened pseudobulbs, protected by some foliar steaths shorter than the leaves, and one or two apical leaves. These are articulated, basally conduplicate, ligulate sometimes with acute apex, thin and narrow, very malleable, light green colored. The inflorescence is erect or arching, shorter than the leaves and bares one to nine flowers sometimes showy, which open in quick sequence holding at least three of four opened at the same time. The inflorescence shoots among the foliar steaths on the pseudobulbs bases.
The flowers vary according to the species. The petals from more elliptical to more acute, in some species wider than the sepals, in others narrower or similar in size and shape, from flat to concave. The labellum is fused to the inferior half of the column, seeming to emerge from there and thereafter becoming much wider; the blade varies from slightly to clearly three lobed, flat or reflected, fleshier on the center where they have calli or salient veins. The column is elongated, with or without small inferior auricles and presents a large apical anther with two hard yellow pollinia, stipe and viscidium.
Their flowers last for about ten days, however, as not all open at the same time it is common to have a plant blooming during a whole month. Pollination has not been observed and seems to be uncommon for few plants bearing fruits have been seen in nature, however, their floral morphology indicates the possibility of Euglossini bees pollinators. When Aspasia species are used to produce artificial hybrids, the characteristic that seems to predominate is the low number of resulting flowers by inflorescence, prevailing even over the so floriferous Oncidium.
Aspasia species tent to be subject to spots on their thin leaves generally caused by fungi proliferation. They should never be exposed to full sunlight. Grow plants in intermediate to warm temperatures in partial shade to bright light. Water plant when mix drys. During the winter give plants a slight dryout between waterings. Water approximately once a week. Pot with medium fir bark.
The genus is named after Greek philosopher Aspasia and the metaphorical sense charming.
- Trophianthus Schweid. 1844
- Aspasia epidendroides Lindl., 1834.
- Aspasia lunata Lindl., 1836.
- Aspasia lyrata (Vell.) Rchb.f., 1852.
- Aspasia omissa Christenson, 2004.
- Aspasia principissa Rchb.f., 1852.
- Aspasia psittacina (Rchb.f.) Rchb.f., 1878.
- Aspasia silvana F.Barros, 1988 publ. 1989.
- Aspasia variegata Lindl., 1836.
- Hoehne, Frederico C. (1940). Introduction in Flora Brasílica, Vol 12-1: 37. Secretaria de Agricultura de São Paulo.
- Freitas Luz, Francisco J. (2001). Orquídeas na Amazônia. Instituto Brasileiro de Cultura, Ed. On Line. ISBN 8520802087
- Miller, David; Richard Warren; Izabel Moura Miller & Helmut Seehawer (2006). Aspasia lunata in Serra dos Órgãos sua história e suas orquídeas, 326-7. Rio de Janeiro.