True black plants do not typically exist in nature, but some of the most unbelievable shades of darkest purple plants have been bred by man. They are beautiful and enchanting to view. This winter at Longwood Gardens in the Cattelya display case there is a special black orchid which is causing a sensation. The orchid is called Fredclarkeara After Dark ‘SVO Black Pearl’ after Fred Clarke the man who hybridized it. This plant breeder owns Sunset Valley Orchids in California which specialises in growing superior hybrid orchids. The plant belongs in the group of orchids called Catasetum which means it loses its leaves during the winter season. In some species of the Catasetum, the differences between male and female flowers are so striking that early taxonomists mistook female forms for different species. Flowers in this species are produced from near the base of the maturing pseudobulb. These orchids are originally native to hot humid tropical areas and grow during the rainy summer months. This period of dormancy during winter is when the black orchid flowers for around 6-8 weeks. During this period it will receive very little water and it has no active growth until later in the year. Until fairly recently this has been the only truly black orchid in the world.