AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis ornithorrhynchos Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 460 (1885).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Leptorkis ornithorhynchos (Ridl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 669 (1891).
Description:
Small erect to arching terrestrial plant on a short to repent rhizome, rhizome up to 5 cm long covered with thin sheaths, roots filiform more or less villous 3 – 5 mm diam., overall up to 15 cm but often smaller. Pseudobulbs stem-like, up to 5 cm long, 7 – 10 mm diam., completely covered by 2 – 3 papery sheaths up to 45 mm long, with 2 or rarely 3 leaves at the top, disintegrating when the new growth emerges. Leaves shortly petiolate, ovate, acute, somewhat plicate, 3.5 – 7.5 × 1.5 – 3.5 cm, green. Inflorescence erect, laxly 8 – 12-flowered, overall between 6 and 12 mm long, 3 – 4 mm diam. Peduncle angular, with 2 – 3 acutely lanceolate peduncle sheaths, 8 – 9 × 3 – 4 mm. Rachis between 4 and 6 cm. Floral bracts ovate-lanceolate, the upper ones more acutely-lanceolate, 4.2 – 11.5 × 1.8 – 2.9 mm, decreasing in size towards the apex. Flowers large, spreading, up to 16 × 10 mm, overall pale green becoming more yellowish-green with age, the column white, with a darker green longitudinal band on the disk of the lip. Pedicel and ovary long and thin, up to 15 × 1.5 mm. Dorsal sepal linear, erect to arching, margins incurved, 8.5 – 11.1 mm. Lateral sepals ovate-lanceolate, obtuse, folded underneath the lip, 9.3 – 9.5 × 3.8 – 5.2 mm. Petals narrowly linear, spreading, 10.8 – 10.6 × 0.6 – 1 mm. Lip rounded to cordate with a short, narrow auriculate base, margins slightly undulate, a short apicule at the tip, with a broad disk and without calli, 7.9 – 9.2 × 8.0 – 8.3 mm. Column arching, almost straight, with long elongate wings, up to 5 mm long, 1.5 mm wide. Anther ovate with an elongate-rostrate obtuse beak, 0.9 – 1.0 × 1.0 – 1.2 mm. Pollinia ovate, c. 0.5 mm. Seed capsule obovate, slightly ridged, up to 15 × 8 mm.
Etymology:
Presumably referring to the resemblance of the anther to the beak of a bird.
Recognition:
The plant has a creeping rhizome, a short thin stem covered with two to three long papery sheaths, two ovate, plicate leaves, ovate-lanceolate floral bracts becoming narrower and shorter towards the apex of the inflorescence, a long and thin pedicellate ovary, and relatively large flowers, with the lateral sepals folded beneath the lip and about twice as long as wide, a roundly to broadly cordate lip with a narrow base, no calli and a distinctly beaked anther cap.
Habitat:
Highland evergreen forest, in shade, damp places. Altitude: 1000 – 1500 m.
Flowering time:
January to April.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
Endemic to 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)
Images:
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