AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Ansellia africana Lindl., Edwards's Bot. Reg. 30: t. 12 (1844).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Ansellia gigantea Rchb.f., Linnaea 20: 673 (1847).
Cymbidium sandersonii Harv., Gen. S. Afr. Pl., ed. 2: 360 (1868).
Ansellia africana var. nilotica Baker, Trans. Linn. Soc. London 29: 154 (1875).
Ansellia confusa N.E.Br., Lindenia 2: 36 (1886).
Ansellia congoensis Rodigas, Lindenia 2: 35 (1886).
Ansellia nilotica (Baker) N.E.Br., Lindenia 2: 36 (1886).
Ansellia humilis W.Bull, Nursery Cat. (William Bull) 1891: 3 (1891).
Ansellia africana var. australis Summerh., Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1937: 462 (1937).
Ansellia gigantea var. nilotica (Baker) Summerh., Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1937: 462 (1937).
Ansellia africana subsp. australis (Summerh.) Senghas in F.R.R.Schlechter, Orchideen Beschreib. Kult. Zücht., ed. 3, 1(23): 1454 (1990).
Ansellia gigantea subsp. nilotica (Baker) Senghas in F.R.R.Schlechter, Orchideen Beschreib. Kult. Zücht., ed. 3, 1(23): 1455 (1990).
Description:
Robust epiphytic herb, sometimes lithophytic, 50–125 cm tall. Pseudobulbs clustered, 10–60 cm long, 1–3 cm wide, fusiform or cylindrical, ribbed with several nodes, yellow or yellow-green. Leaves 4–10, borne on apical half of pseudobulb, 15–50 × 1.5–5 cm, lanceolate, acute (rarely obtuse), dark green. Inflorescence apparently terminal but arising from a node just below the apex, paniculate, laxly many-flowered. Pedicel and ovary 2.5–4 cm long; bracts 1–5 mm long. Flowers usually yellow, blotched lightly or heavily with red-brown, but occasionally plain yellow or yellow-green. Dorsal sepal 16–35 × 5–10 mm, elliptic, obtuse; lateral sepals similar but slightly longer. Petals 16–30 × 5–14 mm, elliptic, rounded at the apex, slightly shorter and broader than the sepals. Lip 14–22 × 12–19 mm, 3-lobed, with 2–3 longitudinal keels down the centre; side lobes erect, rounded in front; mid-lobe orbicular to obovate, obtuse and apiculate or retuse, the margins undulate. Column to 12 mm long.
Habitat:
Widespread, often in hot dry mixed deciduous woodlands at medium to low altitudes, in riverine vegetation and miombo woodlands near rivers, on Hyphaene, Adansonia, Colophospermum, Ficus, Brachystegia, Parinari, Terminalia, Uapaca and Albizia spp., also sometimes on rocks in shade, rarely in forest 0–1700 (2200) m.
Cultivation:
Read more of cultivation of Ansellia africana Lindl.
Notes:
This is a very variable plant, and several species have been described over the years, differing mainly in the size and pattern of the markings of the flowers. The habitat is also varied – while it is predominantly a plant of woodland in hot dry, relatively low-lying areas, it can also occur in forest and at quite high altitudes. However, there seems to be little correlation between the characters and all forms tend to intergrade.
Distribution:
Trop. & S. Africa
References:
The Orchids of South Central Africa Williamson 1977; Wild Orchids of Southern Africa Stewart, Linder, Schelpe & Hall 1982; Malawi Orchids Vol 1 La Croix 1983; Flora of Tropical East Africa Orchidaceae Part 2 Cribb 1984; The Manual of Cultivated Orchids Bechtel, Cribb, Laurent 1992; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids Pridgeon 1992; Manual of Orchids Stewart 1995; The Orchids Of Kenya Stewart 1996; African Orchids in the Wild and Cultivation La Croix 1997; Flora Zambesiaca Vol 11 Orchidaceae Part 2 Pope 1998; Orchids of Southern Africa Linder & Kurzweil 1999; 4; Flora's Orchids Nash and La Croix 2005; Field Guide to the Orchids of Northern South Africa and Swaziland McMurty, Grobler, Grobler & Burns 2008
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ 
Ansellia africana 01  Ansellia africana 02  Ansellia africana 03  Ansellia africana 04  Ansellia africana 05  Ansellia africana 06 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission. 
Photograph© Warren
McCleland. Image used
with kind permission.