AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis ascendens P.J.Cribb, Kew Bull. 51: 357 (1996).
Description:
A creeping terrestrial herb with an ascending rhizome; rhizome branching, terete, elongate, up to 9 cm long, bearing several scarious bracts along length. Pseudobulbs conical, 3-noded, 2 - 2.5 x 0.5 - 1 cm, 2 - 3-leaved, subtended by 2 lanceolate acute, scarious sheaths. Leaves suberect, ovate-lanceolate, acute, 5- 9 x 1.5 - 2.5 cm; petiole narrow, conduplicate, up to 4 cm long. Inflorescence erect, subcorymbose, many-flowered, 7- 15 cm long; peduncle erect, slender, terete, bearing 4- 6 lanceolate, acuminate sterile bracts in upper part; bracts lanceolate, acuminate, 4- 10 mm long. Flowers green marked with purple; pedicel and ovary 10 - 14 mm long. Dorsal sepal erect, lanceolate, acute, 7 - 8 x 1.5 mm; lateral sepals deflexed, falcate, oblong-obovate, acute, 4.5 - 5.5 x 2.5 - 3 mm. Petals deflexed, somewhat falcate, linear, acute, 7 - 7.5 x 0.5 - 0.7 mm. Lip porrect, conduplicate, subcircular, apiculate, 4.5 - 5 x 4 - 4.5 mm, margins erose; callus basal, fleshy, bilobed. Column suberect, arched, 3.5 - 4.5 mm long.
Habitat:
In soil and moss on rocks in forest, in open places on rocks in forest with Leonardoxa sp.; 900 - 1000 m.
Notes:
This is a very distinctive Liparis readily distinguished by its ascending rhizome almost covered in scarious bracts along its length and bearing well-spaced pseudobulbs at intervals of up to 9 cm. The pseudobulbs are also characteristically subtended by 2 lanceolate, acute, scarious, sterile sheaths. The flowers have an almost circular lip with a pronounced basal callus, and free lateral sepals. The only other African Liparis with long rhizomes is Liparis deistelii but that has slender rhizomes lacking the sheaths and distinctive flowers with a flabellate, retuse lip, broader than long, and lateral sepals fused almost to the apex. Liparis suborbicularis Summerh., from Cameroon and Nigeria, has clustered pseudobulbs, a retuse lip and lateral sepals that are united for half their length.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
WC. Trop. Africa
References:
New species and records of Orchidaceae from West Africa, Kew Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 2 (1996)
Images:
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