Maxillaria variabilis Bateman ex Lindl. 1837 sect. Erectae Pfitz 1889 TYPE for sect. Photo by © Eric Hunt and His Orchid Website

Color variation of the flower Photo by © Jay Pfahl

Red Flower Form Photo by Marius Wasbauer

Plant and Flowers in situ Panama Photo by © Wilfried Löderbusch

Part shadeHotTo CoolWinterSpringSummerFall

Common Name The Variable Maxillaria

Flower Size to about 3/4" [1 to 1.5 cm]

Found from Mexico Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador as a small sized, hot to cool growing terrestrial, lithophytic or epiphytic, solitary leafed species is found on or below trees in open or dense humid forests at elevations of 500 to 2500 meters with simple or branched rhizomes carrying subclustered, ovoid to ellipsoid pseudobulb subtended by several sheaths and carrying a single, apical, linear or linear-oblong, subcoriaceous, grass-green acute to obtuse leaf that blooms throughout the year with several scarious sheaths that carry the slender, to 2" [to 5 cm] long, single flowered inflorescence enveloped by several, thin, scarious, transluscent, lanceolate, acuminate bracts with variable colored, long-lasting flowers.

M curtipes is often given as a synonym of this species and it is most likely correct but I have kept them separate at this time. M variabilis differs from the similar M caespitifica but it is a smaller plant with smaller green flowers, M costaricensis has green to cream colored flowers stained with red and comes from much wetter areas

Synonyms Maxillaria angustifolia Hooker 1841; Maxillaria chiriquensis Schlechter 1922; Maxillaria lyoni Lindley 1845; Maxillaria panamensis Schltr. 1922; Maxillaria revoluta Kl. 1852; Maxillaria variabilis subvar. lutea A.H.Kent 1893; Maxillaria variabilis var. unipunctata Lindl. 1838; Maxillariella panamensis (Schltr.) Szlach. & Sitko 2012; Maxillariella variabilis (Bateman ex Lindl.) M.A. Blanco & Carnevali 2007; Maxillariella variabilis var. unipunctata (Lindl.) Solano 2011

References W3 Tropicos, Kew Monocot list , IPNI ; Die Orchideen Schlechter 1915; Die Orchideen Schlechter 1915 as M variabilis var unipunctata; Atlas des Orchidees Cultivees Constantin 1920 drawing hmm; Die Orchideen der Sudamerikanischen Kordillerenstaaten II Colombia Schlechter 1920 as M angustifolia; Repert. Sp. Nov. Regni. Veg. Beih. 17: 68. Panama Schlechter 1922 as M chiriquiensis; Repert. Sp. Nov. Regni. Veg. Beih. 17: 70. Panama Schlechter 1922 as M panamensis; Repert. Sp. Nov. Regni. Veg. Beih. 19: 141. Costa Rica Schlechter 1923; The Orchids of Panama L.O. Williams & P Allen 1946; AOS Bulletin Vol 27 No 1 1958 photo; AOS Bulletin Vol 27 No 6 1958; Native Orchids of Trinidad Schultes 1960; Encyclopedia of Cultivated Orchids Hawkes 1965; Flora de Venezuela Volumen XV Part 4 Foldats 1970 drawing ok; Las Orquedias De El Salvador Vol 2 Hamer 1974 drawing/photo fide; Orquideologia Vol 12 No 1 1977; AOS Bulletin Vol 48 No 5 1979; Orquídea (Mexico City), n.s., 7[3]: 1979; Las Orquedias de El Salvador Vol 3 Hamer 1981 drawing ok; Icones Planetarum Tropicarum plate 870 Dodson 1983 drawing fide; AOS Bulletin Vol 54 No 1 1985 photo; Flora Novo-Galaciana Vol 16 McVaugh 1985; An Introdution to the Orchids of Mexico Wiard 1987 photo fide; Icones Planetarum Tropicarum Plate 1342 Atwood 1989 as M curtipes drawing fide; The Manual Of Cultivated Orchid Species Bechtel, Cribb & Launert 1992 photo fide; Rudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1B lieferung 28 1713 - 1776 Brieger 1993 as M curtipes; Rudolf Schlechter Die Orchideen Band 1B lieferung 28 1713 - 1776 Brieger 1993 photo good; Fieldiana Biology, Flora Costa Ricensis Family # 39 Orchidaceae, subtribes Maxillariinae and Oncidiinae Atwood & Mora 1999 ddrawing fide; Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica Vol 3 Hammel, Grayum, Herrera and Zamora 2003; AOS Bulletin Vol 78 No 2 2009 photo; Orchids of Costa Rica Vol 4 Morales 2009 as Maxillariella variabilis photo fide; Mille et Une Mini Orchideees Roguenant 2009 photo fide; Guia de Orquideas de Chiapas Carlos Rommel Beutelspacher Baigts 2013 as Maxillariella variablis photo fide; Algunas Orquideas de Mexico Tomo 1 Suarez 2013 as M chiriquensis photo fide; Algunas Orquideas de Mexico Tomo 1 Suarez 2013 as M unipunctata photo fide; Algunas Orquideas de Mexico Tomo 1 Suarez 2013 photo fide