Masdevallia pachyura, the “Broad-tailed Masdevallia” is a warm to cool growing miniature species native to Ecuador and Peru. Unlike many masdevallias, Masd. pachyura produces inflorescences of multiple small flowers. The flowers are white with dark brick red spots, almost bars, particularly on the dorsal sepal. Unlike the pointy caudae (tails) of most masdevallias, the tails of Masd. pachyura are short and rounded, thus its name. If you are looking for a masdevallia that’s a little different and can tolerate some heat, Masdevallia pachyura is an excellent choice.
Masdevallia is a New World genus named for Dr. Jose Masdeval, a Spanish botanist in the time of Charles III, and comprised of about 600 miniature to medium sized epiphytic or lithophytic species from Mexico to the southern Andes. Like their close relative the draculas (for example Dracula benedictii), masdevallias have creeping rhizomes and an inflorescence that arises from an annulus, but it’s the structure of the flower that really stands out. The sepals are fused into a tube, of sorts, and the petals stand out in various triangular arrangements. Colors range from white to yellow to brilliant reds and purples. It is hard to pick favorites.
Being mostly from montane cloud forest, Masdevallia is generally considered a cool grower; however, there are species that grow naturally in intermediate and even warm conditions, like Masdevallia rex, M. ayabacana, M. discoidea, and M. bennettii. In my experience, most (if not all) can tolerate temperatures in the 80’s and even 90’s if they are kept in the shade, and they grow well in pots with sphagnum or small bark mix (I favor moss). They like low light, high humidity and watering throughout the year but be careful not to overwater. I grow mine in net or closed pots with sphagnum moss, and I keep them in intermediate (when it’s cooler) to low (when it’s warmer) light.