The Species


Sweet indicates that following his studies, he believes the genus Miltoniopsis comprises five species, which are native of Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Collectively they are sometimes known as the "pansy" or "Colombian type" Miltonias, although they should now only be referred to by their generic name Miltoniopsis. The species are:-

  • M. vexillaria
  • M. roezlii
  • M. phalaenopsis
  • M. warceewiezii (formerly known as Miltonia endresii)
  • M. santanaei.

The genus Miltonia is now limited to the following Brazilian species:-

  • M. spectabilis
  • M. flava
  • M. flavescens
  • M. regnellii

There is a third grouping of plants, of Brazilian origin. Sweet has assigned these to the genus Oncidium, Section Stellata, which he recommends be elevated to generic level, for which the generic name Gymizodon is available. He states the following "Miltonias" are included here:-

  • M. clowesii
  • M. cuneata
  • M. kayasimae
  • M. russelliana
  • M. velloziana (which is not separable from M. cuneata)

He also includes with these plants the following Central American species:-

  • M. karwinski
  • M. reichenheimii
  • M. scroderana
  • M. stenoglossa

Other "Miltonias are additionally listed to represent another genera one of their own are:

  • M. candida
  • M. wascewixziit
  • M. odorata is considered by Sweet to be more correctly named Aspasia odorata.; M. parva to be Cischweifa parva.


(a) Miltoniopsis vexillaria has also been known as Odontoglossum vexillarum and is native of Ecuador and Colombia. It has been in European cultivation since 1872. It produces narrow oblong pseudobulbs, which are somewhat compressed, some 35 - 50 mm tall, sheathed by the bases of the lower leaves. The leaves are long and thin, sharply pointed, keeled beneath, alternating on each side of the pseudobulb in two rows, there being usually 6 - 8 per growth. The lower two leaves are shorter than those above, with a single apical leaf on the pseudobulb. There are usually two, but sometimes 3 to 4 inflorescences per growth, which we slender, arching, and 4 - 7 flowered, 300 - 500 mm long. The individual flowers can be highly variable in both size and colour, usually 75 -100 mm long, usually light rose, but often varying from rose-carmine to almost white. The sepals and petals are similar, almost equal. The lip Is flattened, somewhat oval in shape, two lobed in front, with a small egg-shaped auricle at each side at the base. There is a yellow crest, two lobed at the base, prolonged in front into 3 short teeth. It is November/December flowering.

here are many named varieties based on flower size and colour differences: alba, chelsiewis, cobbeana, leoboldii, leucoglossa, measuresiana, rebella sanderiana and superba


(b) Miltoniopsis roezlii, which has also been included In the Odontoglossum genus, is native to Panama and Colombia. it has compressed oval-oblong pseudobulbs, light bluish-green in colour, almost hidden by the leaf basal sheaths, 50 - 65 mm long. The solitary apical leaf is to 300 mm long, sharply pointed, pale bluish-green. The inflorescence is up to 300 mm long, slender, 2 to 5 flowered. The flowers are very flattened 75 to 100 mm long, white with a purple blotch at the base of each petal, with an orange-yellow disc at the lip base. The petals are broader than the sepals. The lip is broadly heart-shaped having angular sinus in the anterior margin, with a small horn-like auricle on each side of the base and 3 raised lines on the disc with 2 small teeth in front of them. It flowers in the autumn (March - May). An alba form exists which is white with a small yellow crest and which was introduced into cultivation 2 years after the usual form.

(c) Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis has also been called Odontoglossum phalaenopsis and Miltonia pulchella.

In 1850 the collector Schlim discovered this species in Colombia carpeting the rocks on which it grew, and he sent plants to the Brussels orchid nursery of Linden. For the next 100 years there was very little mention of this plant. In 1954 a butter- fly collector by the name or Schmidt-Mumm, in the eastern Cordellera of Colombia, came across many plants blooming on a tree, and he collected, five. In 1959 he searched for them again, with no success, although other subsequent discoveries have been made in both Ecuador and Colombia. This species has somewhat slender pale green pseudobulbs, which are hidden by sheathing leaf-like bracts. They are oval, strongly compressed, to 35 mm long. The solitary apical leaf is folded at Its base, tapering to the tip, to usually 300 mm long, pale green in colour. The inflorescence is shorter than the leaves, the scape somewhat flattened, and is 3 to 5 flowered. The flat flowers are 50 - 65 mm across, sepals and petals white, the sepals broader. The four lobed lip is white with some purple streaks. It blooms from late spring to mid-summer, with flowers lasting four to five weeks, and they emit a delicate, slightly sweet, fragrance. This species is always naturally found in cloud forests where the mist burns off by noon, and late afternoon showers usually follow. It occurs from 450 metres (1,500 feet) to 2,150 metres (7,000 feet) above sea level. This is said to be a cooler growing species as compared with the other plants of this grouping.

(d) Miltoniopsis warceewiezii is a plant with a somewhat confused name. The plant commonly known as M. endresii had been originally described as Odontoglossum warscewiczii, although Sweet has re-assigned this species back to this genus, and identifies it now as Miltoniopsis warscewiczii. He believes the plant which has commonly been called Miltonia warceewiezii should be placed in another separate genus of its own. There appears to be a possibility for confusion with this plant, relying on accurate identification and labelling, although the plants are distinct.
As M. endresii, The Dictionary of Gardening describes 3 to 5 flowers each 65 mm across, cream white with rose-purple blotch at the base of the segments. The lip is broad, the flowers, which are borne on a slender scape, are described as being 'fragile'. This species is native of Costa Rica and Panama, and has also been known as Miltonia superba. It has been cultivated since 1875.

The descriptions indicate that this plant is readily distinguished from the 'other' Miltonia warceewiezii which Sweet now believes should be placed in another genus. It has rather leathery leaves on pseudobulbs 100 - 125 mm tall, as compared with the smaller pseudobulbs, and rather thin textured leaves of the Miltoniopsis. The flowers of the 'Miltonia' species are also distinct, being on a paniculate scape, with brownish-red sepals and petals, with a rose-purple lip.

(e) Miltoniopsis santanaei is a recently discovered species, first described by Garay and Dunsterville in 1976. No description is available, although it is illustrated in Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated.

Miltonia Charisma


1 - Sweet has sectioned the following Brazilian species into the Oncidium Section Stellata, and he believes all the plants in this Section should be afforded generic rank, advising that the name Gymizodon is available for this genus.

(a) Oncidium clowesii has also been included in the Brassia and Odontoglossum genera, as well as Miltonia. It has narrow compressed yellowish pseudobulbs, 75 - 100 mm tall, bearing two glossy leaves 300 - 450 mm long. The inflorescence is erect or arching, to 600 mm tall, rather densely 7 - 1 0 flowered. The flowers are 50 - 75 mm across, the sepals and petals chestnut-brown, barred and tipped yellow, glossy. The lip is sharply long, pointed, the basal half violet-purple, the apical half white. It has been in cultivation since 1840.

(b) Oncidium cuneata (Miltonia speciosa, Oncidium speciosum) produces 5 - 8 60 - 75 mm chestnut-brown flowers tipped yellow on a 600 mm tall inflorescence, which is furnished with triangular papery bracts. The flower lip is white. It is early summer flowering, and has been cultivated since 1843.

(c) Oncidium kayasimae - no description found.

(d) Oncidium russelliana has 60 mm flowers, the sepals and petals reddish-brown tipped pale yellow. The basal two thirds of the lip is rose-lilac, the apical third white or light yellow. Cultivated since 1835.

The following Central American species are also included here by Sweet:

(a) Oncidium karwinski - no description.

(b) Oncidium reichenheimii - no description.

(c) Oncidium schroederana, sometimes also included under Odontoglossums, has 7 - 9 fragrant 65 mm flowers of similar colouration to the other plants in this grouping.

(d) Oncidium stenoglossa has also been included under Odontoglossums, and produces usually a few 35 mm long flowers, of yellow green colour, blotched and banded with brown. The lip is white basally, purple on its apical half. Spring flowering, it is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.

11 - Sweet considers the following two species should be given separate generic rank on their own:

(a) Miltonia candida, producing 3 - 6 75 mm flowers, which are yellowish, spotted rich brown. The lip is white, tinged rosy-pink, much undulated. The flowers are waxy and fragrant. The lip forms a broad funnel like tube around the column; autumn flowering, it is native of Brazil, and has been cultivated since 1830.

(b) Miltonia warscewiczii (as distinct from the miltoniopsis species) has been described under a number of synonyms, Odontoglossum warscewiczii, Odontoglossum weltoni, Oncidium fuscatum, Oncidium weltoni, and Miltonia warscewiczii var. weltoni. Native of Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, this spring flowering species produces an erect inflorescence some 600 mm tall, usually paniculate, densely many flowered, the flowers opening at once. The fragrant waxy flowers are about 50 mm long, variable in colour. The sepals and petals are usually brownish- red, the lip variable in colour and size, rose-purple with a red-brown disc usually, with a variably wide white margin.


Eight natural hybrids are listed by Sweet:

Miltonia candida x M. regnelli = M. Bindii;
Oncidium clowesii x Miltonia spectabilis = Miltonidium Bluntii;
Oncidium clowesii x Miltonia regnelli = Miltonidium Castanea
Miltonia regnelli x M. spectabilis = M. Cogniauxiae;
Miltonia flavescens x M. spectabilis = M. Festiva;
Miltonia candida x Oncidium clowesii = Miltonidium Lamarcheana;
Miltonia candida x M. spectabilis = M. Leucoglossa;
Oncidium speciosum x Miltonia spectabilis = Miltonidium Rosina.

It is obvious that the taxonomy of this whole grouping of plants is difficult, and further name changes can be anticipated!! either as a result of de-classifications, or from differences in opinions of the various botanists involved.

Because of the nomenclatural changes that have occurred between the species described in this article, and also in the closely related genera, some difficulty may arise with certain identification of parents used in hybridisation. All of the plants which are generally understood as Miltonias have been used in breeding, both with- in the genus, and also between other genera in the Oncidiinae alliance. Within the intergeneric field, the following combinations have been registered:-

Aliceara = Brassia x Miltonia x Oncidium
Milpasia = Miltonia x Aspasia
Bakerara = Brassia x Miltonia x Oncidium x Odontoglossum
Bealiara = Brassia x Miltonia x Cochlioda x Odontoglossum
Burrageara = Miltonia x Oncidium x Cochlioda x Odontoglossum
Colmanara = Miltonia x Oncidium x Odontoglossum
Degarmoara = Brassia x Miltonia x Odontoglossum
Forgetara = Aspasia x Brassia x Miltonia
Goodaleara = Miltonia x Brassia x Cochlioda x Odontoglossum x Oncidium
Miltassia = Miltonia x Brassia
Miltonioda = Miltonia x Cochlioda
Miltonidium - Miltonia x Oncidium
Odontonia = Miltonia x Odontoglossum
Schafferara = Miltonia x Aspasia x Brassia x Cochlioda x Odontoglossum
Vuylstekeara = Miltonia x Odontoglossum x Cochlioda

Both Miltonia and Miltoniopsis species are listed as Miltonias in the lists. To understand the required culture of hybrids, identification of the actual species involved will be necessary, and the use of the Sanders List of Orchid Hybrids is invaluable in this regard.

Within the Oncidiinae alliance are plants with many differing 2n chromosome numbers. Chromosome counts play an important part in successful hybridisation, and constitute a basic element in determining whether hybrids will breed further. Miltonias comprise 56 and 60 chromosome individuals, with one variety of a species of 86 chromosomes. W.W.G. Moir of Hawaii reports that in the Brazilian Miltonias breeding goes on when either 56 or 60 count parents are involved, and fertile hybrids result. The &ante goes on in the 56 (M. roezlii) and 60 (M. vexillaria) chromosome Miltoniopsis species from Colombia. Crossing of Miltonias with Miltoniopsis (Brazilian with Colombian) species produces sterile offspring.

With the combination of the 60 chromosome genera, Miltonia with Brassia (Miltassia), this bigeneric breeds easily, and crosses with other genera. Miltonias hybridised with the 56 chromosome Oncidiums produce fertile hybrids in the main, with only a few which are sterile. Trichopilas (56) with Miltonia (60) produce more rewarding hybrids, but none breed.
Advancing into the trigenerics, Alicearas (Brassias x Miltonia x Oncidium) are reported by Moir to be easier to make from Miltassia or even a Miltonidium than from a Brassidium and Miltonidium or even a Miltonidium and a Brassia. With Vuylstekeara using Odontiodas on to a Brazilian Miltonia, hybrids have been beautiful, but difficult to breed with further.
Carpenter reports Miltonias are principally used in American breeding today for introducing temperature tolerance into Oncidium and Odontoglossum hybrids. Moir has been a leader in this field. Miltonia spectabilis is widely used, especially its varieties moreliana and atrorubera for their very dark purple colour. Miltonia regnellii is used to improve length and arrangement of the inflorescence. He reports that some breeding between Miltonias and Miltoniopsis has been attempted by Baker of Washington, U.S.A., "but this seems to be a difficult line of breeding".

Moir has commented that the crowded flowers of Miltonia is a problem to over- come, and that when hybridised with Brassia, to produce Miltassia, only a few flowers generally result on the spike.

Of the Miltoniopsis species, increasing interest is being expressed in Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis. This species has been responsible for the much sought after "waterfall" patterns of the flower lip. The 1917 hybrid registered by Charlesworth - Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis x vexillaria - named Venus, is a great-grandfather of all the waterfall patterned hybrids today. The attempt to develop a variety of colours with the waterfall pattern has brought about a resurgence of interest in Miltoniopsis phalaenopsis in modern breeding.

If you wish
you may

me at -



Click above graphic to see list of societies in your area.

 Site established 9th May 1998
Oncidium series first uploaded 20 October 1999