Grammatophyllum speciosum is the world’s largest orchid. It is uncommon to find in nature and a difficult plant to cultivate because of its large size. This orchid is usually found growing on the branches or stumps of large trees in exposed areas in lowland tropical rain forest. The largest individual ever found had a mass of two tons (4,000 pounds)! The plant only flowers once every two to five years, but each of these bloom cycles has a duration of up to two months. The flowers are yellow with dark red or brown spots. The stems often reach six to nine feet in length and have 60-100 flowers on each.
The tiger orchid is native to hot, tropical forest in Malaysia, Sumatra, and New Guinea. In these places it is commonly known as the Sugarcane Orchid for its resemblance to sugarcane stalks. The genus name of this orchid, Grammatophyllum, comes from the Latin for grass and leaf. It is rarely found in cultivation because of its size. However, in tropical areas such as the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s McBryde Garden on Kauai, it has been successfully grown by planting on trees or large rocks where the plants thrive and flower periodically.