AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Oberonia disticha (Lam.) Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 132 (1924).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Epidendrum distichum Lam., Encycl. 1: 189 (1783).
Pleurothallis disticha (Lam.) A.Rich., Mém. Soc. Hist. Nat. Paris 4: 49 (1828).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Cymbidium equitans Thouars, Hist. Orchid.: t. 92 (1822), nom. illeg.
Oberonia brevifolia Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 16 (1830).
Malaxis brevifolia (Lindl.) Rchb.f. in W.G.Walpers, Ann. Bot. Syst. 6: 215 (1861).
Iridorkis equitans Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 669 (1891).
Oberonia equitans (Kuntze) Schltr., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 33: 411 (1915), nom. illeg.
Description:
A small species, 2-15 cm long, flattened from side to side, sometimes forming clumps; roots very fine, less than 1 mm in diameter. Leaves usually seven to eight, to 5 x 1 cm, distichous, overlapping, fleshy, bilaterally flattened, pale green, lanceolate, acute or acuminate, decreasing in size towards the top of the plant. Inflorescences terminal, 3-10 cm long, cylindrical and tapering, densely many-flowered. Flowers tiny, yellow-ocher to orange, less man 2 mm across. Sepals 0.7 x 0.5 mm, ovate, obtuse; petals 0.5 x 0.2 mm, elliptic, obtuse. Lip 1 x 0.7 mm, deflexed, somewhat fiddle-shaped, with no spur. Column very short.
Habitat:
Epiphytic in evergreen forest and high rainfall woodland, usually hanging downwards on trunks and lower branches, 470-1250 m. It tends to be very local in its distribution; in Malawi, for example, it is only found in one small area, although mere are many other places where the habitat is apparently suitable.
Cultivation:
Intermediate temperatures and moderate shade. This species can be either mounted, if the humidity is kept high, or grown in a pot, where it needs to be watered with cafe as too much moisture will cause the fleshy leaves to rot, although the fine roots do not like to be dried out too much.
Distribution:
Cameroon, Malawi, South Africa (Mpumalanga) , Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zimbabwe. Also in Comoro Islands, Madagascar, Mascarene Islands.
References:
African Orchids Harold Koopowitz, BioScience, Vol. 22, No. 5 (May, 1972), p. 324; African Orchids: X V. S. Summerhayes, Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), Vol. 1938, No. 4 (1938), pp. 141-153; Flora Zambesiaca Vol 11 Orchidaceae Part 1 Pope 1995; Field Guide to the Ethiopian Orchids Demissew, Cribb & Rasmussen 2004; Orchids of Madagascar Hermans, Du Puy, Cribb & Bosser 2007
Images:
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Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ 
oberonia disticha in situ  oberonia disticha. close up 
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.