Above image courtesy: Columbus GV Team, on Flickr
A number of images depicting flowers with the face of a monkey have been circulating via social media posts and the blogosphere for several years. The flowers are often referred to colloquially as “monkey orchids” or “monkey-faced orchids”.
Many commentators have suggested that the images have been “photoshopped”.
However, the images are genuine and depict real orchid flowers.
The botanical name for the flowers depicted in some of the circulating images is Dracula simia. The name pays homage to the “monkey” resemblance (simia) as well as to a resemblance to the flowing cape and long fangs of the Dracula character in popular fiction.
Other circulating images depict Dracula gigas, another orchid species that also has flowers that resemble monkey faces.
These orchid species grow in their natural state in various South American forests at high elevations and are thus not often encountered by people in the wild. However, collectors have cultivated the plants elsewhere.
Note that some other types of orchids may also be called “monkey orchids”.