The Holy Ghost or Dove Orchid (Peristeria elata) is the most widely known member of this small genus. The first plants of Peristeria were sent to England in 1826 and were flowered in 1831. William J. Hooker, when describing the genus, named it Peristeria after the Greek word meaning dove, due to the likeness of a dove that appears in the flowers. Peristeria elata is the national flower of Panama.
This group of sympodial, terrestrial or epiphytic orchids has large, almost-teardrop-shaped pseudobulbs. Four or five massive pleated leaves arise from the apex of each pseudobulb. The inflorescence arising from the base of the pseudobulb may be pendulous or erect and from 6 inches (15 cm) to 4 feet (120 cm) long, bearing 4 to 20 flowers. The base color of the flowers is white or yellowish with some pink or red spots.