AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis nephrocardia Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 145 (1924).
Description:
Small to medium, erect epiphyte, lithophyte or humicole plant, 9 – 17 cm high, rhizome very short, roots flexuose c. 1.5 mm diam. Pseudobulbs short, broadly ovoid to conical, 10 – 24 mm high, 7 – 13 mm wide, entirely covered by 2 – 3 sheaths and the leaf petioles, with two larger leaves and a third smaller one. Leaves elliptic-lanceolate, acute or acuminate, narrowed into a petiole (up to 2.5 cm), plicate, erectly spreading, margins slightly undulate, 6.2 – 15 × 2 – 3.5 cm. Inflorescence up to 17 cm; variable in size, shorter or the same length as the leaves in the high altitude form, exceeding the length of the leaves in the lowland form, slightly ridged, with up to 14 flowers. Peduncle with a single sheath towards the base and 2 – 5 broadly-lanceolate sterile leaf-like bracts below the rachis, 7 – 9 × 2 – 3.5 mm. Rachis laxly flowered, 3 – 6 cm long. Floral bracts erectly spreading, initially similar to the sterile bracts below but then decreasing in size, lanceolate-acuminate, 5.4 – 8 × 1 – 3 mm. Flowers small, up to 10 × 8 mm, erectly spreading, greenish-yellow at first becoming brownish-yellow with age. Pedicel and ovary somewhat ridged, c. 5 × 1.5 mm. Dorsal sepal narrowly lanceolate, obtuse, base subcordate-auriculate, 6.5 – 8 × 1.1 – 1.7 mm. Lateral sepals porrect, elliptic-oblong, obtuse, 5.1 – 6.5 × 2.3 – 2.7 mm. Petals deflexed, obliquely linear, 5.1 – 7.9 × 0.3 – 0.5 mm. Lip strongly curved in the middle, the base subrectangular, basal wings short and rounded, with a rounded callus at the base forming a crescent or ‘V’ or ‘M’ shape, abruptly expanded in the middle into a kidney-shaped obcordate blade, rounded to undulate at the anterior margin, 4.1 – 5.6 × 3.8 – 5.4 mm. Column curved at the apex with subrectangular wings, 2.3 – 4.1 × 0.8 – 1.2 mm. Anther obtusely beaked at the front, c. 1 × 0.9 mm. Pollinia oval c. 0.4 × 0.3 mm.
Etymology:
Refers to the kidney / heart shape of the blade of the lip.
Recognition:
A squat, broad-leaved plant normally with one flowering growth and a short conical pseudobulb, several broadly lanceolate sterile bracts below the rachis with similar floral bracts but becoming smaller, a lip with a large rectangular base and then expanded into a broad rounded subcordate blade with and entire, semi-circular to ‘M’-shaped callus and an obtusely beaked anther cap.
Habitat:
Humid evergreen forest and moss-forest. Altitude: 600 – 1800 m.
Phenology:
Flowering in December-March.
Notes:
There seem to be two distinct forms of this species, a smaller one from Mt Tsaratanana and the Sambirano region and a lusher lower altitude form from the Eastern forests where the plant is almost double the size and the inflorescence much longer.
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:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

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