Cymbidiella flabellata (Thouars) Rolfe, Orchid Rev. 26: 58 (1918).
Limodorum flabellatum Thouars, Hist. Orchid.: t. 39 (1822).
Cymbidium flabellatum (Thouars) Spreng., Syst. Veg. 3: 724 (1826).
Graphorkis flabellata (Spreng.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 662 (1891).
Caloglossum flabellatum (Thouars) Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 15: 213 (1918).
Cymbidiella perrieri Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 272 (1925).
A tall terrestrial, this species ranges from I to 1.5 m in height. The leaves are narrow, lingulate-loriform and are acute. The leaves are 20 to 50 cm long and 1.7 to 2 cm in width. The pseudobulbs, 8 to 10 cm high, are covered by five to 98 of these leaves, and are spread out on a thin wiry rhizome 6 to 8 mm in diameter. The inflorescence, usually longer than the leaves, is up to 1.5 m tall, usually less. A raceme, 10 to 15 cm long, contains from 10 to 30 flowers, though usually about 15. Floral bracts are lanceolate-acute. Flowers are fragrant, long lasting, with heavy substance and 5 to 5.5 cm long. The sepals are oblong, sub-acute, 1.5 to 2 cm. Petals are similar to sepals, but are shorter and more obtuse. Sepals and petals are both yellowish green with the petals spotted with red in varying degrees. The lip is trilobed, obovate, 1.4 to 1.8 cm wide and 1.5 to 2 cm long, yellowish-green, heavily spotted and bordered in bright red. The lateral lobes are erect, obtuse and small. The median lobe is greatly obovate-flabelliform, excised to the point of being nearly bilobed. The median lobe is undulate-plicate marginally and has a bilamellate callus. Column is .8 to 1 cm long and the short foot is only I to 3 mm long.
Cymbidiella flabellata is a specialized terrestrial, growing normally in sphagnum moss, and usually in the shade of a species of Phillipa, a heatherlike shrub. Cymbidiella flabellata is occasionally found growing in humus without the company of sphagnum. A widespread and variable species, flabellata inhabits the wet rocks and sand of shady bogs, frequently near the edges of brackish lagoons near the coast, and also on the edges of inland streams. Notably, Cymbidiella flabellata grows in places where the soil is continually moist. Cymbidiella flabellata lives at an elevation of sea level to 3,940 feet (0 to 1,200 m), but usually is found near sea level. It is widespread in range, but occurs sporadically, growing more abundantly in some areas than others.
Cymbidiella flabellata, although looking very much like a terrestrial, lives in sphagnum moss, either on sand or on wet rocks. This orchid has different cultural requirements than the other two cymbidiellas. Important cultural tips are:
• Grow in moist sphagnum (with some humus), preferably in a pot.
• Repot carefully and give substantial room in a pot for its growth.
• Provide medium light with more shade given than for the other two cymbidiellas.
Like Cymbidiella falcigera, Cymbidiella flabellata has been shown to resent transplantation from the wild. This orchid blooms from September to February in Madagascar and from March to August in the Northern Hemisphere.
Although the flowers of Cymbidiella fiabellata are quite charming and closely resemble those of Cymbidiella pardalina, their smaller size makes them less desirable. The orchid is well worth cultivating, considering its floriferous habit, sometimes containing as many as 35 flowers on a 5-foot spike. The flowers of Cymbidiella flabellata have a frilled red lip. This species has the distinction of being fragrant, possessing a strong fragrance of sweet vanilla. Cymbidiella flabellata has been sporadically cultivated, unlike Cymbidiella falcigera, which is virtually uncultivated, but is difficult to obtain in the United States.