AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis lutea Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 458 (1885).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Leptorkis lutea (Ridl.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 671 (1891).
Description:
Very small, up to 8 cm, erect terrestrial plant, on a short rhizome with the previous growth deciduous, roots wiry, c. 1 mm diam. Pseudobulbs almost stem-like, with three leaves, the petiolate base enveloping the elongate pseudobulb, two to three membranous sheaths at the base, 16 × 6 mm. Leaves ovate to lanceolate, 5 – 6.5 × 1.6 – 2.3 cm with a c. 25 mm petiole. Inflorescence c. 11 cm long, 1 mm diam., with three sheaths along its length, with c. 10 flowers. Peduncle 2 – 3, sheaths lanceolate acuminate, 7 – 8 × 2.5 – 3 mm. Rachis dense, flowers appressed to the rachis, c. 3.5 cm. Floral bracts ovate, lanceolate acuminate, 3.8 – 4.3 × 1.2 – 1.7 mm, about half the length of the ovary. Flowers small c. 9 × 7 mm, yellow to pale green. Pedicel and ovary somewhat ridged, 6 – 9 × 0.8 – 1.2 mm. Dorsal sepal narrowly linear, wider at the base, acuminate obtuse at the apex, 4.8 – 6.1 × c. 0.9 mm. Lateral sepals ovate, a little falcate, 4.1 – 4.6 × 2.1 – 2.2 mm. Petals narrowly linear almost subulate, 4.5 – 5.4 × c. 0.3 mm. Lip ovate cordate, obtuse, with three strong veins in the middle, slight swelling towards the base but without obvious callus, auriculate at the base, 2.9 – 4.1 × 2.0 – 3.1 mm. Column short and thick, curved towards the apex, shortly winged 2.2 – 2.9 × 0.5 – 1.1 mm. Anther cordiform 0.7 – 0.9 mm diam. Pollinia ovate c. 0.3 × 0.2 mm.
Etymology:
Presumably referring to the yellow colour of the flowers.
Recognition:
A very small plant with a dense raceme, the flowers not spreading much and almost appressed to the rachis, relatively large floral bracts, and small, yellow flowers with lip with three central veins, lacking a callus, a slightly winged column and heart-shaped anther.
Habitat:
In marshes, from 1500 m alt.
Flowering time:
February.
Notes:
Henry Ridley (1885) described Liparis lutea from a plant collected by the Rev. William Deans Cowan. The type consists of a single growth only but Deans Cowan, in his sketchbook of Madagascar orchids (Cowan 1880: 22 no 48) (Fig. 37) shows a fairly detailed watercolour sketch of a plant plus some detail of a flower. The species is only known from the holotype and two other collections at present and it is likely that this species will remain somewhat ambiguous because of the limitations of the description and type material. If further material comes to hand it should be compared with Liparis densa, of which it may well prove to be an unusual or smaller form.
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.