AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis clareae Hermans, Orchids Madagascar, ed. 2: 216 (2007).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Liparis cardiophylla H.Perrier, Notul. Syst. (Paris) 5: 244 (1936), nom. illeg.
Description:
Medium-sized epiphytic or terrestrial plant up to 18 cm tall, roots white c. 1.2 mm diam. Plant on a short linear rhizome, rhizome c. 5 mm diam., covered in fibrous sheaths, roots somewhat woolly. Pseudobulbs fleshy, 4 – 11 cm × 3 – 7 mm, enveloped by 2 – 3 papery sheaths, carrying a single leaf. Leaf more or less fleshy, persistent on the older pseudobulbs, broadly ovate-cordate, acute, auriculate-imbricate at the base, blade leathery and rigid, green to blueish green, paler underneath, with several veins but mid-vein not prominent, especially in the living plant, 5.5 – 10 × 4 – 5.6 cm. Inflorescence up to 20 cm long, erect to arching from the apex of the pseudobulb, carrying up to 10 flowers but generally fewer. Peduncle enveloped at the base by a single whitish sheath and 1 – 2 bract-like sheaths similar to the floral bracts higher up. Rachis laxly flowered, successive along its length. Floral bracts cordate, a little shorter than the pedicellate ovary, 5 – 7 × 1.5 – 2.1 mm. Flowers large, overall 18 × 15 mm, olive green, the lip darker with a glossy dark green raised area from the base to the middle, column white, anther pale yellow, pollinia yellow, flowers turning yellow-orange with age, flower buds gibbose on each side of the base. Pedicel and ovary glabrous, round, 9 – 12 × 6 – 7 mm. Dorsal sepal lanceolate, subacute, narrowing towards the base faintly 3-veined, 6.5 – 11 × 1.25 – 2.5 m. Lateral sepals oblong to oval, obtuse 6 – 9.1 × 2.2 – 4 mm. Petals linear, 7 – 13 × 0.4 – 0.9 mm. Lip ovate to sub-rectangular, base narrowed auriculate, the anterior margin denticulate, spreading into the margins, without a distinct callus but a swollen base spreading into the centre, 6.2 – 8.9 × 4.1 – 7.6 mm. Column arched, 2.5 – 4.2 × 1 – 1.5 mm, with obtuse expanded wings towards the apex just below the rostellum. Anther with a distinct subacute beak almost as long as the anther chamber, 1.1 – 1.8 × 0.7 – 1.1 mm. Pollinia one to rarely two per chamber, oval, 0.3 – 0.6 × 0.2 – 0.5 mm.
Etymology:
The original name given by Perrier refers to the heart-shaped leaf, the name now refers to ‘bright-shining’ and to Clare Hermans.
Recognition:
A medium-sized plant with a linear rachis and fleshy pseudobulbs and leaf. The leaf is flat, single, broadly ovate and clearly cordate at the base, the mid-vein is indistinct, the floral bracts cordate, and the flowers large for the genus, with an ovate to subrectangular lip with an indistinct callus, a column with rounded wings and an anther cap with a long sub-acute beak. It is long and successively flowering.
Liparis clarae is similar to L. warpurii but differs by the distinct habit with a short linear rachis (a longer scrambling habit in L. warpurii where new growths emerge from the lower nodes of the previous pseudobulb), the wider, flatter, heart-shaped leaf without a distinct central vein, cordate floral bracts and larger and more numerous flowers. As shown in Table 8, it has similarities with several other species, including L. magnifica, described below but L. clareae is around three times the size in both plant and flower size and its callus is indistinct (vs bidentate). It is related to L. laurentii, described below, but the plant of L. laurentii is smaller, the leaf has a more distinct central vein and the base is rounded (vs cordate), it has 1 – 5 flowers (vs 6 – 12), the transversely elliptic or reniform lip is much wider (vs ovate), the margins are not serrate, the anterior margin is emarginate (vs entire), the basal calli consisting of horn-like calli (vs slight swellings) and the column wings are elongate (vs short and obtuse). It is also close to L. superclareae, described below, with which it shares its general habit and lip shape but L. superclareae has much longer pseudobulbs, the leaves of the previous growth disintegrate before the new ones develop (vs persistent), the leaves are lanceolate (vs ovate) and at least 2.5 – 3 times longer than wide (vs 2 times), the floral bracts are less cordate at the base, the flowers and all its segments much larger, the column shorter with broad long wings (vs short-auriculate) and the anther more sharply beaked
Habitat:
Evergreen forest, moss-forest, on moss or moss-covered trees. Altitude: 600 – 1500 m.
Phenology:
January to May.
Notes:
The species was first described by Perrier in his monograph on the Liparidinae of Madagascar in 1936, based on a specimen collected by Edmond François in the Mandraka Gorge. There is an earlier use of Liparis cardiophylla Ames (1908: 92), based on a plant from Jamaica that precludes the use of this name for the Madagascan plant, it was therefore named L. clareae in 2007 (Hermans et al. 2007: 216). Liparis cardiophylla var. angustifolia H.Perrier ex Hermans (in Hermans et al. 2007: 289) was described by Perrier in 1936 as a tentative variety of the species, it is only known from the type specimen which corresponds well with the characteristics of L. warpurii and is included and discussed under this species.
Perrier, in his description, noted that single pollinia were found in each of the two anther chambers in the type, this peculiarity seems to vary between specimens with some showing the normal two pollinia per chamber.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
Endemic and widespread in 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.