There are around 30 species in the genus Stanhopea, and are spectacular epiphytic orchids native to South America.

Their most unusual feature is that the flowers actually grow downward, and they are also highly prized for their very strong, distinctive fragrance

This is my first bud about to bloom and I am yet to smell the fragrance but already it is in my patio at the back door.

The bloom keeps growing - Looks like ballerina legs - Oops! I think it is a boy - so no seeds from this one

The magic of this bloom opening

A close up reveals a cathedral window like chamber that looks as if it is made of glass windows

The open bloom huge - I?ve measured it being over 24 cm across, dark burgundy middle of the flower gradually turning into the lighter and then pure pristine white color on the end of petals.

The scent is very strong heady vanilla with warm and seductive aura enveloping notes of smooth tonka bean and creamy musk

Almost looks like a creature from the deep sea

It actually reminds me of a cuttlefish

Cuttlefish Look Alikes

I have another one still in bud so I hope it will be a different variety.