Angraecum sesquipedale – ‘The Star of Bethlehem’

Angraecum sesquipedale is native to Madagascar and will grow in conditions similar to Cattleya.
It is also known as the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ orchid because of the large star shaped, white flowers This orchid has a nectar tube of 25 – 30 cm in length with only the distal end filled with nectar.

Charles Darwin predicted that there must be an as yet undiscovered moth with a proboscis capable of extending to 30 cm that visits this flower, otherwise the orchid could never be pollinated. At the time, he was not believed. However, long after Darwin’s death, the predicted pollinator was discovered over 41 years later in 1903, a hawk moth now named Xanthopan morganii praedicta (praedicta meaning “predicted”). The specific name ‘sesquipedale’ means ‘one foot and a half’, referring to the length of the spur. This is a perfect example of mutual dependence of an orchid and a specific pollinator.

This plant prefers medium light conditions


This plant prefers intermediate temperatures.


50% or higher is ideal.


Water as the mix just dries out, when in bloom water as the medium approaches dryness.


This plant blooms in the winter, usually in mid to late July. The pure white flowers are large, waxy, thick, long lasting and fragrant at night. It can produce from 2 to 6 flowers per stem. The unusual aspect of these flowers is the large 10 to 13 inch nectary attracting a very large moth (in nature) at night for pollination.




Repot this plant about once every two years or when the mix has broken down. Larger plants do best in clay pots with a medium orchid bark mix. These plants don’t like to have the roots disturbed so be careful and try not to crack or damage any of the good roots. Allow the root system to stay dry for the first week to 10 days after repotting. This will allow any damaged roots to heal before water is applied to prevent fungal infections.

Angraecum sesquipedale is a superb orchid and not difficult to grow, it is long lived and will reward the grower with flower displays that will only get better as the plant gets larger.

DARWIN’S COMET ORCHID:You tube showing pollination by moth

So much more info as well as videos about Angraecum sesquipedale on Google