Brassia caudata (L.) Lindl.

Spider Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Epidendrum caudatum, Malaxis caudata, Oncidium caudatum

Brassia caudata, commonly called the Spider Orchid, occurs in Mexico, West Indies, Central and northern South America and Florida. This epiphyte has strongly flattened pseudobulbs with two glossy, relatively long, green leaves that spread out from the apex. The inflorescence emerges from the axil of the pseudobulb and consists of large spindly flowers with long slender yellow-green sepals and petals that are barred and blotched with brown. This orchid grew in hardwood hammocks in the Everglades National Park and was heavily impacted by freezes and fires in the late 1960s.

Brassia caudata is vulnerable throughout its range and considered endangered in Florida. It has not been seen in Florida since 1990 and is believed to be extirpated.


The speckled petals and sepals look like the legs of a spider and fool female spider-hunter wasps in the genera Pepsis and Campsomeris. The wasp stings the flower’s lip and while trying to grasp its prey, comes into contact with the pollinarium that sticks to its head. Pollen is transferred to the next Brassia flower the wasp visits.

Ecosystem Type

Swamps, woodlands


Number of leaves on stem:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
  • green to brown
  • yellow
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is lobed
Labellum length:
12–27 mm
Sepal length:
62–150 mm
Plant height:
Up to 50 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Vulnerable
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data