Prosthechea cochleata (L.) W.E.Higgins

Clamshell Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Anacheilium cochleatum, Encyclia cochleata, Epidendrum cochleatum

Prosthechea cochleata, commonly known as the Clamshell Orchid, is distributed in the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, as well as the southern counties of Florida. This plant produces 1-3 thin, keeled leaves and 1-15 non-resupinate flowers. The sepals and petals are yellow-green with a few purple spots at the base. The uppermost part of the lip is broadly cordate and concave, purple to brown in color with veins radiating from the base. Another color form, albidoflava, has sepals and petals that are creamy white with a yellow lip.
This orchid grows on tree trunks and branches in damp forests.

Prosthechea cochleata is apparently secure throughout its range but considered endangered in Florida.


The autogamous, 3-anthered Prosthechea cochleata var. triandra is the only variety found in Florida. This promotes self-pollination, an important adaptation when insect pollinators are not present.

Ecosystem Type

Forests, swamps, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
  • one
  • two
  • three
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
  • blue to purple
  • green to brown
  • yellow
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a raceme
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is simple
Labellum length:
Up to 11 mm
Sepal length:
25–35 mm
Plant height:
Up to 60 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 Apparently Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status N/A

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data