AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis stenophylla Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 148 (1924).
Description:
Erect, medium to large (15 – 32 cm) terrestrial or rarely lithophytic or epiphytic plant on a short 1 – 2 cm tufted rhizome, the leading 2 or 3 growths retaining their leaves, roots flexuose, more or less villous. Pseudobulbs slender, terete, up to 16 × 10 mm, olive green, the flowering one partly enveloped by 3 – 5 brownish-white carinate, acute sheaths, disintegrating on the older growths, with two sub-opposite leaves at the apex. Leaves erectly spreading to almost horizontal, narrowly lanceolate to ligulate attenuate, margins almost parallel, with a short petiole, somewhat fleshy, 9 – 16 × 0.9 – 2 cm, pale green with the veins darker, more or less glossy. Inflorescence erect, flexuose, up to 20 cm × 2 mm, with up to 25 flowers. Peduncle about 1/3 of the inflorescence with a few bract-like lanceolate-acuminate sheaths. Rachis laxly several-flowered becoming thinner towards the apex. Floral bracts lanceolate acuminate, somewhat amplexicaul, shorter than the pedicellate ovary, 3 – 6 × 0.75 – 1.5 mm. Flowers small, erectly spreading, c. 12 × 8 mm, ovary, petals and sepals pale yellowish-green, lip pale greenish-yellow with the disk darker green, becoming darker towards the middle, basal teeth green, column whitish with the apex becoming green, anther pale yellow. Pedicel and ovary slightly twisted, slender, more or less ridged, 4.7 – 11 × 0.4 – 0.8 mm. Dorsal sepal erect or slightly reflexed especially at the apex, narrowly lanceolate acute, margins recurved except at the apex, broadening towards the base and shortly subcordate, 6.5 – 7.5 × 0.6 – 1.3 mm. Lateral sepals curved parallel beneath the lip, obliquely oblong-ovate, obtuse, 4 – 5.8 × 2 – 3 mm. Petals divergent, semi-erect or descendant, margins strongly recurved, linear obtuse, 4.9 – 7 × 0.4 – 0.7 mm. Lip a little curved towards the base, obovate to suborbicular, the anterior margin crenate to serrate, indented in the middle, the base narrowed and auriculate, with two distinct horn-like calli (c. 0.7 mm long), 4.8 – 6.2 × 4 – 5.2 mm. Column a little incurved, shortly winged towards the apex, 2.7 – 4.9 × 0.6 – 1.3 mm. Anther ovoid, strongly beaked, c. 1 × 0.7 mm. Pollinia ovoid c. 0.6 × 1.2 mm.
Etymology:
The name refers to the slender leaves.
Recognition:
Liparis stenophylla is a medium-sized to large plant with a long thin pseudobulb partly covered with long carinate sheaths, two long ligulate leaves with darker veins, a long thin, laxly-flowered inflorescence. It has small flowers, with an obovate to suborbicular lip, with two distinct horn-like teeth at the base, and an indented and crenate-serrate anterior margin.
The most closely allied species is Liparis polycardia which is similar in habit, flower size and shape but its leaves are more erectly spreading rather than horizontal, the leaves are ligulate (vs narrowly lanceolate in L. polycardia), the petiole longer, the inflorescence generally longer, the petals longer and the lip obcordate rather than obovate to suborbiculate. The species is similar in many respects to L. listeroides but differs in its longer pseudobulbs and the much longer ligulate leaves (vs oval-elliptic to broadly ligulate in L. listeroides), the lip is also broader in L. listeroides. It is also similar to L. danguyana but the plant is almost double the size, the leaves are narrowly lanceolate vs broadly oval and the anther is beaked vs rounded. Liparis stenophylla was until recently only known from the lower elevations of Northern Madagascar but has recently also been found in Eastern Forest near Ranomafana (Hermans 8213). Its distribution overlaps with L. listeroides which is usually confined to higher elevations.
Habitat:
Dense, wet, evergreen forest, either terrestrial in shady undergrowth, in humus and mosses, lithophytic on moss-covered rocks or epiphytic. Altitude: 280 – 1100 m.
Flowering time:
November to August but mainly November to May.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
Endemic to Northern Madagascar
References:
Flora of Madagascar: vascular plants: 49th family, Orchids / by H. Perrier de La Bathie; published under the auspices of the government of Madagascar and under the direction of H. Humbert; English revision and translation by Steven D. Beckman; Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
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