AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis dryadum Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 138 (1924).
Description:
Very small, erect epiphytic plant, up to 6 cm, forming small clumps, rhizome very short, roots rounded, filiform, glabrous, 1 – 2 mm diam. Pseudobulbs distinctly flattened- rounded, normally with 2 – 3 leaves, 4 – 16 × 8 – 15 mm, covered in degrading sheaths and the base of the lower leaf. Leaves lanceolate, erectly spreading, obtuse to subacute, more or less corrugate especially at the margins, a little narrowed at the base, forming a short petiole, overall 1.5 – 5.5 × 0.4 – 2.1 cm, the third one generally smaller. Inflorescence erect or arching, up to 9 cm, laxly 3 – 30-flowered. Peduncle winged, barbellate, with one or two sheaths 4 – 6 × 1 – 1.2 mm. Rachis 3 – 4 cm, costate, with the lower flowers opening before the upper ones. Floral bracts lanceolate to ovate, rounded at the base, about the same size as the ovary, entire to dentate at the margins, 2.1 – 4.9 × 1.8 – 2 mm. Flowers very small, overall 5 – 8 × 3 – 6 mm, yellow-green to yellow-brown. Pedicel and ovary rounded, winged, distinctly echinate especially towards the base, 3 – 7 × 0.3 – 0.8 mm. Dorsal sepal erect, lanceolate-ovate, obtuse, margins strongly recurved, 3 – 4.9 × 0.9 – 1.9 mm. Lateral sepals deflexed, obliquely-ovate, obtuse, 2.7 – 3.9 × 1.4 – 2.5 mm. Petals deflexed, narrowly subfalcate-linear, obtuse, 3.1 – 3.7 × 0.2 – 0.4 mm. Lip curved, very broadly suborbicular-obtrapezoid, the anterior margin with a slightly obtuse apicule, emarginate, base broadly rounded truncate, at the base with a short bilobed rounded callus at the base, partly covered by a basal lobe, 1.9 – 2.8 × 1.8 – 2.8 mm. Column a little curved, the margins extended into a short acute triangle alongside the stigmatic surface, 2 – 3.5 × 0.8 – 1.3 mm. Anther ob-triangular with two ridges, c. 0.4 mm diam. Pollinia c. 0.3 mm diam.
Etymology:
Referring to the Dryads, tree dwelling mythological nymphs.
Recognition:
Liparis dryadum is one of the smallest species of the genus. The inflorescence is somewhat longer than the lanceolate leaves, of which it has two to three leaves with wavy margins and a short petiole. The lip disk has a short, bilobed callus at the base. The broadly inverse-trapezoid lip with rounded corners is also characteristic.
Liparis dryadum is similar to L. xanthina but the leaves are shorter and narrower, the differences in flower characteristics are difficult to ascertain with only Deans Cowan’s rudimentary watercolour as evidence. It is somewhat different from L. cladophylax which has wider leaves that are not corrugate at the margins and an narrower lip with an ‘M’ shaped callus vs shortly bilobed. Schlechter mentioned a similarity with L. epiphytica Schltr. (Schlechter 1905b) from West Africa, but it is easily distinguished by being more than half the size both in plant and flower and a bilobed lip callus vs rectangular.
Habitat:
Epiphyte in lichen forest, or dense humid evergreen forest, moss and lichen-covered trees. Altitude: 660 – 1600 m.
Phenology:
January to March.
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)
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