AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis bathiei Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 135 (1924).
Description:
Very small to small, erect, terrestrial plant, 6 – 11.5 cm high; rhizome short, roots, filiform, flexuose, more or less villous. Pseudobulbs short, 7 – 10 mm high, 5 – 9 mm diam. in the middle, sub-globular. Leaves soft, generally 2 – 3, rarely 4, erect-spreading from the flowering pseudobulbs, oblong or elliptic-acute to somewhat obtuse, 4.2 – 6.1 × 2.2 – 3.2 cm, gradually narrowed into a petiole towards the base. Inflorescence erect, sub-flexuose, about the same length as the leaves, carrying a few basal sheaths, up to 10 cm long. Raceme densely flowered, elongate, up to 7 cm, carrying 10 – 20 flowers. Floral bracts leaf-like, erectly spreading, lanceolate, acuminate, the lower ones often a little longer than the ovary, 4 – 7 × 3.5 – 4 mm, the higher ones a little shorter, 4 × 2.5 mm. Flowers very small to small, erectly spreading, overall c. 4 × 5 mm, yellow green. Pedicel and ovary 4 – 5 mm, glabrous, roundly ridged. Dorsal sepal erect, narrowly lanceolate, obtuse, 4.5 – 5.2 × 0.5 – 1.8 mm, the base cordate-auriculate. Lateral sepals folded beneath the lip, strongly 3-veined, obliquely oval or oblong, 3.8 – 4.8 × 1.8 – 2.7 mm. Petals narrowly linear, obtuse, recurved, 4.2 – 5 × 0.3 – 0.4 mm. Lip oval to lozenge-shaped, obtuse, base cordate-auriculate, with the blade somewhat angular at the base, anterior margin irregular, the tip more or less apiculate and recurved, a small obsolete callus near the base, with a central gutter with radiating veins along its length, 3.1 – 4.2 × 3 – 3.8 mm. Column a little curved, short 1.8 – 2.4 mm and thick c. 1 mm, wings barely present. Anther clavate, 1 – 1.2 mm long, including the narrow rounded upturned beak, 0.6 – 0.9 mm wide. Pollinia oval c. 0.3 mm diam.
Etymology:
Named for Henri Perrier de la Bâthie (1873 – 1958) by Rudolf Schlechter.
Habitat:
Terrestrial on laterite clay, in the shade of Acacia dealbata Link (1822: 445). Amongst rock. Altitude: 1500 – 1600 m.
Phenology:
January to March.
Recognition:
One of the smallest members of the genus in Madagascar. It has short and subglobose pseudobulbs, a densely flowered rachis with 10 – 20 very small to small flowers, relatively large floral bracts, a lip lacking a prominent callus, and a small column, with an anther with a narrow upturned beak.
Liparis bathiei resembles L. trulliformis, having the same habit, but differs in its smaller flowers, the relatively wider, rhombic, ecallose lip and the comparatively stout column. There are similarities in habit with L. lutea but the lip is bigger, the floral bracts larger and the anther cap has an obtuse rather than an acute beak. It also resembles L. bosseri, described below, in plant habit and shape of the anther but the rachis in L. bosseri is less dense, the flowers are twice the size, and the lip obovate (vs oval / lozenge-shaped). It shares several characteristics with L. xanthina which may be the same species but there is not sufficient reliable material to support this.
Notes:
Liparis bathiei was first found by Perrier in March 1921 and was sent to Schlechter the following month who described it three years later. Perrier made another collection in the same locality in February 1925 and gave them the same collecting number. In his description, Schlechter cited Perrier’s specimen 13548 as the type with a collecting date of March 1921. Several sheets in G, K and P also have the number of Perrier 13548 but are from the later collection. As they come from the same locality as the holotype but were collected later, they can all be considered as topotypes.
Perrier in an overview of the geographical distribution of Liparis discussed the origin of this species (1936: 259): he first found plants in March 1921 on the immediate outskirts of the then small town of Ambatolampy, a few hundred metres South from the military barracks, at around 1500 m altitude, in an area that is now very barren, densely populated and cultivated. Further collections were made in Feb. 1925 and duplicates deposited in G and K. According to Perrier the population was still there in 1932. He wrote that the plant grew in good numbers in the shade and in the humus of Acacia dealbata, introduced to Madagascar around 30 years before: “... There is no natural locality for this Liparis, remnants of original forest are more than 60 km away, and these remnants have been well explored by botanists. Finding this Liparis in these urban conditions under an introduced tree is interesting and not easy to explain except for originating from small seeds transported in the wind. It is also interesting that this species is new and has little resemblance to other Liparis found in the area (it is related to L. henrici but this species has only been found in Betsileo, i.e. more than 200 km S of Ambatolampy. It has reproduced with vigour in these conditions, very different from those where these species normally grow. Considering these circumstances it appears that this Liparis is a result of recent evolution, resulting from a seed transported by wind into a very different environment. This example of sudden mutation is especially interesting as it occurred on one of the main link roads of the Island, it is an interesting example of local evolution.”
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
C. Madagascar. Endemic.
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:
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