Prosthechea pygmaea (Hook.) W.E.Higgins

Dwarf Butterfly Orchid

Facts About

Accepted Synonyms: Encyclia pygmaea, Epidendrum pygmaeum, Hormidium hioramii

Prosthechea pygmaea, the Dwarf Butterfly Orchid, is distributed in the West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America, and extends into the swamps of south Florida. A single plant may consist of a tangle of creeping rhizomes that connect small, dark green pseudobulbs, each with a pair of apical leaves. This orchid blooms from October-January, producing a terminal inflorescence with 1-3 light green, sessile flowers with a white lip that has a bright purple tip. The flowers may not open fully and often flowers and the 3-winged fruits are found on the same inflorescence. This orchid grows on the trunks and branches of trees such as pop ash and pond apple in swamps and sloughs where individual plants may form large patches.

Prosthechea pygmaea is apparently secure across its broad distribution but is considered endangered in Florida where it is one of the rarest and smallest flowered orchids.


Pollinator information for this orchid has not been reported in North America but in other parts of its range this orchid is autogamous.

Ecosystem Type

Forests, swamps, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
  • two
  • three
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is not pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is lobed
Main color of labellum:
  • blue to purple
  • white
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence has one flower or a pair of flowers
Labellum characteristics:
  • the labellum is lobed
  • the labellum is saccate
Labellum length:
Up to 2 mm
Sepal length:
5–6 mm
Plant height:
Up to 12 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