Phragmipedium kovachii

Phragmipedium kovachii

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae
Tribe: Phragmipedieae
SubTribe: Phragmipediinae
Genus: Phragmipedium
Species: Phrag. kovachii
Binomial name
Phragmipedium kovachii
J.T.Atwood 2002

Phragmipedium kovachii is a species of Phragmipedium.


Plant usually blooms from fall to spring with 11 to 15 cm wide flower.

Phragmipedium kovachii (heterotypic synonym Phragmipedium peruvianum) is an orchid species discovered in 2001 in the Amazon jungle of NE Peru, and is considered to be the most important orchid species to be found in the Neotropics in the last 100 years.

In May 2002, James Michael Kovach, of Virginia, planned a travel to Peru with his friend Lee Moore, a man who has traded orchids[3]. On May 26th, 2002, he arrived in El Progresso, a town in San Martín region of Peru. During the trip, a person offered an orchid from the Peruvian jungle, a big colorful Phragmipedium orchid. He bought 3 pots. That night, Moore told him "This is your chance. You've got the Holy Grail of orchids."

Kovach arrived in Miami on June 4th, 2002, with 300 orchids and at least one new Phragmipedium without classification. He took it to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. J.T. Atwood, S. Dalstron and Fernandez published its description in Selbyana magazine on June 12th, 2002. Kovach suggested his name for the orchid: Phragmipedium kovachii.

A few days after the Selbyana publication, a description of the species as Phragmipedium peruvianum by Eric Christenson, an expert of American Orchid Society was published in the Orchids magazine (June 17th, 2002). Eric Christenson says that Kovach knows that name and the one Kovach suggests with his name was a prohibited name. The name peruvianum has been considered not to be a good choice for some experts because a similar name has been used before (Phragmipedium peruviana), but was not validly published, for a species which was later named Phragmipedium richteri.

On June 20th, 2002, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens was in problems. The Peruvian Government asked for an investigation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kovach was indicted for importing a protected Peruvian orchid. All species of Phragmipedium are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.

On June, 10th, 2004[5] the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, declared that Kovach was guilty of violating the endangered species act. Kovach received two years' probation and a $1,000 fine for transporting the endangered flower from Peru to the United States.

A proposal has been put forward in the journal Taxon 55 of November 2006 to declare the name Phragmipedium kovachii invalid and to add its original ad hoc publication "Selbyana vol. 23 Supplement" to the “opera utique oppressa” (ICBN Appendix VI) (publication to be suppressed). Counterarguments have been presented in Taxon 56 (August 2007)


Plant is found growing in tufts in the montane forest of Amazonas, Peru at elevations of 1600 to 1950 meters.


Plants grow in intermediate areas with bright indirect sunlight. Plants should be watered with clean water and keep potting media wet. Plants can tolerate lots of water as long as media remains fresh. Plants are sensitive to salts. Keep fertilizers to a minimum as plants are light feeders. Plant in a mix with good air circulation. Plants can be grown in a mix of sphagnum moss, charcoal and perlite or medium fir bark with perlite.


Common Names:Kovach's Phragmipedium


  1. Phragmipedium peruvianum Christenson, 2002

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