AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Malaxis physuroides (Schltr.) Summerh., Kew Bull. 8: 578 (1953 publ. 1954).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Microstylis physuroides Schltr., Ann. Mus. Colon. Marseille, sér. 3, 1: 164 (1913).
Lisowskia physuroides (Schltr.) Szlach., Fragm. Florist. Geobot., Suppl. 3: 121 (1995).
Description:
Small scrambling terrestrial, epiphytic or lithophytic plant 9 – 11 cm high, on a short creeping rhizome with the new growth emerging from the base or node of the previous withered decumbent pseudobulb, covered in brown scarious sheath remnants, roots filiform, flexuose, villous. Pseudobulbs caulescent, succulent, cylindrical, 5 – 7.5 cm long, 3 – 6 mm diam., covered with 3 – 4 yellowish, papery overlapping sheaths attenuate at the tip, with 2 – 3 (rarely 4) leaves at the apex. Leaves erectly spreading, broadly oval-acute, rounded to sub-cordate at the base and contracted into a 8 – 12 mm petiole, overall 3.3 – 7.2 × 2.4 – 4.1 mm. Inflorescence erect, thin, 7 – 14 cm long, with up to 40 flowers. Peduncle about as long as the raceme, somewhat angular, with several small bract-like sheaths, red. Rachis very densely racemose. Floral bracts erect, narrowly lanceolate, acute, up to 2.3 × 0.5 mm. Flowers not resupinate, c. 3 × 4 mm, dark red. Pedicel and ovary glabrous 2 – 2.3 × 0.2 – 0.4 mm. Dorsal sepal oval-lanceolate obtuse, 1.7 – 2 × 0.8 – 0.9 mm. Lateral sepals oval-obtuse, 1.2 – 1.7 × 0.7 – 0.8 mm. Petals linear, 1 – 1.2 × 0.2 – 0.3 mm. Lip suborbicular, obtuse with distinct obtuse basal wings folded around the column, margins of the blade sinuate, anterior margin rounded-truncate to a little indented, disk with a subreniform callus (perhaps pubescent) just below the middle, 1.6 – 1.9 × 1.5 – 1.7 mm. Column short, straight, with indistinct wings, c. 0.5 × 0.2 mm. Anther ovate, truncate at the back, angular-obtuse at the front c. 0.33 × 0.2 mm. Pollinia ovoid c. 2 mm.
Etymology:
A reference to the orchid genus Physurus Rich. ex Lindl. (now Erythrodes Blume (1825: 410)) with which it shares the habit of some of the species.
Recognition:
A small plant with cylindrical succulent pseudobulbs, two to three broadly apical oval leaves. Inflorescence almost as long as the plant, very densely-flowered, flowers small, red, lip suborbicular with obtuse basal wings alongside the column, anterior margin rounded-truncate with a distinct rounded callus on the disc.
Habitat:
Humid evergreen forest, shaded wet rocks. Altitude: 400 – 1400 m.
Flowering time:
November to April.
Distribution:
Endemic to Madagascar
References:
Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
Images:
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