AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis ochracea Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 461 (1885).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Leptorkis ochracea (Ridl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 671 (1891).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Liparis connata Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 462 (1885).
Leptorkis connata (Ridl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 671 (1891).
Liparis hildebrandtiana Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 140 (1924).
Description:
Large, erect, terrestrial, epiphytic or rarely lithophytic plant, up to 28 cm tall but generally between 15 – 20 cm, rhizome very short, repent, roots filiform, flexuose more or less pilose. Pseudobulbs stem-like, narrowly cylindrical-ovoid to subcylindrical but bulbous at the base, up to 6 cm long, 2 cm wide, covered by 2 – 3 long and overlapping stem-sheaths, sometimes the older leafless pseudobulb obliquely divergent, with up to 5 leaves starting half-way up the stem and ending with 2 – 3 larger ones towards the apex. Leaves erectly spreading, obliquely elliptic to ovate-elliptic, apiculate to obtuse, base rounded-cuneate and then narrowed into a 1.5 – 4 cm petiole, overall 7 – 15 × 3 – 5 cm, plicate, margins a little undulate to crenulate. Inflorescence erect, up to 15 cm, 2 – 3 mm in diam., laxly with up to 11 flowers but generally fewer. Peduncle costate, with 2 – 4 peduncle sheaths, the basal ones amplectant, the higher spreading, up to 35 × 4 mm. Rachis up to 8 cm long. Floral bracts erectly-spreading, variable but generally the lower ones lanceolate-acuminate, the higher ones shorter, ovate-acuminate to cordate and almost leaf-like, 6 – 14 × 2.5 – 5 mm. Flowers large, erectly spreading, up to 20 × 15 mm, sepals and petals greenish-white to more or less greenish yellow becoming more yellow-orange with age, the lip a little darker and sometimes with a darker patch on the disk, column white, anther white to greenish-white, pollinia yellow. Pedicel and ovary slightly ridged to costate, 9 – 14 × 2 – 5 mm. Dorsal sepal arching over the column, narrowly-triangular, base cordate, tip obtuse to acuminate, 12 – 17 × 2 – 3.5 mm. Lateral sepals porrect below the lip, frequently fused or part fused with one another, subfalcate, oblong-lanceolate, somewhat obtuse, 11.5 – 16 × 3.5 – 5 mm. Petals pendent and recurved towards the tip, narrowly linear narrowing towards the apex, margins incurved, 10 – 15 × 0.5 – 1.2 mm. Lip elliptic, apex truncate-obtuse and shortly indented, anterior margins undulate to dentate, strongly curved just above the middle, base shortly cordate-auriculate, with two distinct parallel calli at the base, more or less longitudinally semi-obovate to lobular, overall 9.6 – 14.2 × 5 – 7.4 mm, generally about half as wide as long. Column slightly curved, semi-terete, the margins extended into rounded wings along the apical half, 4 – 7 × 1.5 – 2.5 mm. Anther shallow, broadly obovate with a tiny apicule at the anterior margin, 1.0 – 1.2 × 1.1 – 1.3 mm. Pollinia ovate, c. 0.5 × 0.6 mm. Seed capsule costate.
Etymology:
The name presumably refers to the ochre colour of the flower, especially the ochre area in the lamina of the lip mentioned by Ridley in his description. This is not often seen in this species; Ridley’s description relied on Deans Cowan’s fairly rudimentary watercolour which shows this feature.
Recognition:
This is a variable species both in habit and flower but there are a number of distinguishing characteristics. It is a large plant with three to five broad ovate-elliptic leaves along a bulbous stem, a costate peduncle, broad, almost leaf-like floral bracts, large flowers with a long narrowly triangular dorsal sepal, a strongly curved lip almost twice as long as wide with a denticulate anterior margin, with parallel calli at the base and a rounded anther.
There are some strong similarities with Liparis sambiranoensis but that has a longer pseudobulb and a more distinct rounded epichile and angular hypochile of the lip (vs almost pandurate), a curved column with small angular wings make the latter species also distinct. Similar to L. ornithorrhynchos but the latter is generally shorter in growth, has a more rounded leaf, somewhat smaller flowers with narrower bracts, a narrower dorsal sepal, much rounder lip without distinct calli and an anther without a distinct beak. A number of Hildebrandt specimens from the same locality were confused with L. ornithorrhynchos.
Habitat:
Humid Eastern forest, highland forest, lichen forest, in damp shade in moss, on rocks and on moss-covered trees. Altitude: 600 – 2000 m.
Flowering time:
January to April.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus, warm to cool growing terrestrial.
Distribution:
Réunion, 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; Orchids of Madagascar Hermans, Du Puy, Cribb and Bosser 2007; Field Guide to the Orchids of Madagascar Cribb & Herman 2009; Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ 
liparis ochracea 01  liparis ochracea 02 
Photograph ©Gilles
Grunenwald. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph ©Gilles
Grunenwald. Image used
with kind permission.