This is the question that I place, following an opinions exchange got in an Italian forum, where someone said that the name of Sobralia altissima was originated from the fact that this orchid was found at the greater altitude.
After consulting the book “Orchid Names and Their Meanings”, doubt had already been largely allayed, altissima (and also-um,-us) indicates the “stature” of the plant and not , as erroneously presumed, the highest discovery altitude. In fact this particular type of Sobralia, in addition to live at elevations rather high, presents incredibly long stems, up to 13.40 metres (44 ft).
The species is endemic in Peru and finds its unique place in the cloud forests of Tayacaja in a province of Huancavelica.
By putting the question, which is also the title of the article, in the American forum Orchid Board that is what was found:
Orchids that grow up to 3,000 meters (9,850 ft) in the Andes (source: Orchid Culture):
Orchids that grow beyond 3,000 meters (9,850 ft) in the Himalayas (source: “Nepal Orchids in Pictures”):
Orchids that grow beyond the 3500 Mt. (11,500 ft) on Mount Kinabalu (source: “The Plants of Mount Kinabalu: Orchids”):
Bulbophyllum coriaceum, over 3,500 meters.
Coelogyne papillosa, over 3,700 meters.
Dendrochilum pterogyne, over 3,700 meters.
Platanthera kinabaluensis, over 4,000 meters.
Were also mentioned Dendrobium cuthbertsonii which grows up to 3,500 mt and Masdevallia selenites that grows from 2,500 to 3,200 meters.
The elevation should be related to the latitude (obviously an orchid that grows to 2,000 meters in Norway can be compared to one that grows to 3,000 meters and perhaps more in tropical or sub-tropical areas), but belong to me, starting from sea level, the data above I think can be considered “winning”.
Obviously the article is open for any integration and / or correction.
Thanks to the friends of Orchid Board that patiently sought information in order to answer to my question.