AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis puncticulata Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 22: 119 (1886).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Leptorkis puncticulata (Ridl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 671 (1891).
Description:
Large slender, erect plant, terrestrial or rarely epiphytic up to 40 cm tall, often forming clumps of 5 or more growths, on a short 0.3 – 2 cm rhizome, roots flexuose, woolly. Pseudobulbs slender, stem-like, hardly thickened at the base, 16 – 38 cm long, 5 – 9 mm diam. Covered by 6 – 9 membranous sheaths slightly overlapping in the lower half and becoming more distant towards the apex, keeled and acuminate at the tip, characteristically spotted with more or less visible dark dots, with 3 – 4 somewhat distant leaves at the apex. Leaves narrowly lanceolate to ligulate, on a short 3 – 8 mm petiole, acute, margins generally a little undulate, sometimes irregularly serrate, 5.5 – 8 × 1.2 – 2.5 cm, pale green. Inflorescence erect, thin c. 2 – 3 mm diam., up to 30 cm tall but generally shorter, carrying up to 11 flowers but most often far fewer. Peduncle somewhat ridged, with a few 8 – 14 × 3 – 4 mm sterile bract-like sheaths. Rachis up to 18 cm, laxly racemose, the lower flowers fading or disappearing well before the apical ones open. Floral bracts erectly spreading, lanceolate acute 7.2 – 11 × 2 – 3 mm. Flowers medium size, up to 19 × 12 mm, erectly spreading, pedicellate ovary pale greenish white becoming darker towards the base of the flower, sepals and petals pale to olive green, lip olive green, the basal lobes paler, with a characteristic very dark green disk, column white, anther greenish-yellow, all parts becoming yellow to pale orange with age. Pedicel and ovary slender erect, 10 – 21 × 1.1 – 1.8 mm. Dorsal sepal lanceolate to ligulate-angustate, the base strongly lobed and for the most part strongly incurved, 7.7 – 14.5 × 1 – 1.8 mm. Lateral sepals broadly lanceolate, obtuse, curved alongside or under the lip, 6 – 12.5 × 3 – 4 mm. Petals oblanceolate to linear, strongly incurved along their length, 9 – 15 × 0.5 – 1 mm. Lip cuneate, the base thickened, longly auriculate, at first hollowed into a narrow gutter then widened into an obtriangular blade, bilobed to obscurely obcordate at the anterior margin which is distinctly dentate. Without a distinct callus at the base but with a thickened bilobed ridge with a rhomboid depression in-between, overall 8 – 13 × 4 – 6.7 mm. Column suberect, the tip curved, wings short and obscure, 3.5 – 6 × 0.6 – 1.5 mm. Anther rounded, with a short beak-like apicule at the front, c. 1 × 0.9 mm. Pollinia ovoid c. 0.5 × 0.4 mm. Seed capsule fusiform, c. 12 × 6 mm.
Etymology:
Refers to the black spots, more or less visible, on the stem sheaths.
Recognition:
This is a large plant characterised by its long, thin pseudobulbs covered by pale sheaths slightly overlapping towards the base but more distant towards the apex, the sheaths often carrying dense, dark spots. It has three to four somewhat distant leaves, an elongate inflorescence with bracts along its length and a few medium-sized flowers towards the apex. The flowers have a wedge-shaped lip with a thickened ridge-like callus at the base and dentate anterior margin and a much darker coloured base.
The long thin stem of Liparis puncticulata is also found in L. gracilipes but its leaves are much narrower (narrowly lanceolate vs elliptic) and the lip wedge-shaped vs suborbicular. The closest species is L. sambiranoensis but its stem is more slender, not angular, the stem sheaths do not overlap all along the stem, the leaves are fewer, more distant, much narrower: narrowly lanceolate vs elliptic and not as thin, the peduncle longer, and the flowers a little smaller with the lip wedge-shaped vs broadly oval.
Habitat:
Terrestrial in humus and in moss-rich forest or on the base of moss-covered trees. Altitude: 800 – 2500 m.
Phenology:
Flowering in January to July but mainly January and February.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
N. & C. Madagascar. Endemic.
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)
Images:
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