AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Phaius pulchellus var. sandrangatensis Bosser, Adansonia, n.s., 11: 534 (1971).
Description:
Terrestrial herb 40-80 cm tall, with closely aggregated pseudobulbs on a sympodial rhizome. Leaves 2-3, thinly plicate, 20-40 cm long, 25-55 mm wide, linear or linear-lanceolate, acute, contracted at the base, with five to six main parallel veins. Inflorescence erect, basal, generally longer than the leaves and up to 30 cm; scape densely flowered with 7-15 flowers, bearing 3-4 green sheaths along its length; bracts 25 mm x 3 mm, lanceolate, acute, caducus, concave, green; ovary & pedicel rounded, slighdy verrucose, up to 22 mm long. Flowers 65-71 mm wide, 50-56 mm high, opening widely and tilting slighdy downwards. Dorsal sepal 26-29 mm long, 8-9 mm wide, narrowly oblong-elliptic, apiculate, bright green. Lateral sepals 26-32 mm long, 6-9 mm wide, similar to the dorsal sepal. Petals 25-30 mm long, 5-8 mm wide, oblanceolate, contracted at the base, bright green. Lip three-lobed, 22-28 mm long, 10-12 mm wide, spurred, erect, sessile, the lateral edges of the lateral lobes upright and folded over the column, dark burgundy-purple except for the top of the ridges and the edge of the terminal lobe which remain white; mid-lobe spreading with undulating margins, a litde notched and apiculate at the end, two central ridges diverging into a V-shape, at the base dilated into a rounded lobe ending at the base of the anterior lobe in a truncated point; between the two ridges is a central fleshy crest; blade of the lip and base of the column densely pilose; spur 4-5 mm, extending from the base of the lip, conical, obtuse and a litde retuse at the tip. Column 2-3 mm long; column-foot 2 mm. Pollinia eight, on a common visidium, stigma terminal, 2 mm. Fruit 35 mm long, 10 mm wide, sometimes verrucose, green.
Habitat:
Evergreen, humid forest in the shady under-storey of trees and scrub, growing in very small colonies in leaf litter and decomposing wood, 600-900 m.
Cultivation:
In common with the typical variant and the other varieties, Phaius pulchellus var. sandrangatensis has a superficial, scrambling root system and plants are best grown in shallow pots or pans, half to three-quarters filled with crocks. An organic potting medium is recommended, consisting of medium grade bark and Perlite, topped with sphagnum moss. Plants should not be planted deeply - the top of the root matt needs to be kept level with the top of the compost.
During active growth plants should be watered copiously; once the growth has matured, watering can be reduced so that the growing medium stays only slightly moist. This variety needs to be grown in a warm glasshouse (minimum winter temperature 18°C, maximum summer temperature 32°C) with a good level of shade and atmospheric humidity. Plants can be propagated by division, leaving each new plant with at least two pseudobulbs and a growth.
Distribution:
E. & SE. Madagascar, (Toamasina province).