AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Mystacidium capense (L.f.) Schltr., Orchideen Beschreib. Kult. Zücht.: 597 (1914).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Epidendrum capense L.f., Suppl. Pl.: 407 (1782).
Angraecum capense (L.f.) Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 248 (1833).
Mystacidium filicorne Lindl., Companion Bot. Mag. 2: 206 (1837), nom. illeg.
Aeranthes filicornis Rchb.f. in W.G.Walpers, Ann. Bot. Syst. 6: 900 (1864).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Limodorum longicornu Sw., J. Bot. (Schrader) 1799(2): 230 (1800).
Eulophia longicornis (Sw.) Spreng., Syst. Veg. 3: 720 (1826).
Epidorkis longicornis (Sw.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 660 (1891).
Mystacidium longicornu (Sw.) T.Durand & Schinz, Consp. Fl. Afric. 5: 53 (1894), nom. illeg.
Description:
A moderately sized, up to 10 in. (26 cm) wide monopodial epiphyte. Numerous gray-green roots that are streaked with white and are 0.1-0.2 in. (0.3-0.5 cm) in diameter are produced at the base of the stem. Pseudobulb/stem: The short stem is enclosed by the overlapping, close-fitting, longitudinally folded leaf bases. Leaves: 1.2-5.0 in. (3-13 cm) long by 0.4-0.6 in. (1.0-1.5 cm) wide. 4-10 strap-shaped or narrowly oblanceolate, stiff, leathery, erect to spreading leaves are distichously arranged on each stem. The leaves are dark green, unequally and bluntly bilobed at the apex, and are narrowed below where they are folded along the midvein for a short distance to form a short, narrow, petiolelike stem at the base. Older leaves at the base of the stem eventually fall. Inflorescence: 2.4-4.0 in. (6-10 cm) long. Several pendent flower spikes emerge from the stem. Flowers are arranged in 2 rows along most of the length of the stem, each with an arched pediceallate ovary that is up to 0.3 in. (0.7 cm) long. Flowers: 6-12 fragrant (at night) white blossoms are carried on each inflorescence. The flowers are up to 0.8 in. (2 cm) across with spreading, narrowly lanceolate, sharply pointed sepals and petals that curve toward the rear toward their tips. The erect dorsal sepal is 0.3-0.4 in. (0.8-1.0 cm) long by 0.1 in. (0.2-0.3 cm) wide. The somewhat sickle-shaped, horizontally spreading lateral sepals are 0.5 in. (1.2 cm) long. They widen fairly rapidly from a narrow base to about 0.1 in. (0.35 cm) wide near the base and then taper gradually to a sharply pointed tip. Petals are obliquely spreading and are 0.3 in. (0.8 cm) long by 0.08 in. (0.2 cm) wide near the base. The 3-lobed lip is 0.4 in. (1.1 cm) long by 0.1 in. (0.3 cm) wide across the lateral lobes near the base. The narrowly lanceolate, stiffly descending midlobe is about 0.08 in. (0.2 cm) wide near its base and tapers gradually to a sharply pointed tip. At the base of the lip is a straight spur that is 1.6-2.4 in. (4-6 cm) long and tapers gradually from a wide mouth to a sharply pointed tip. The column is very short.
Habitat:
This orchid is the most widespread species in South Africa and is the most common in cultivation. It is found in southern and eastern Cape Province from west of Port Elizabeth, with heavy concentrations near East London. Distribution continues northward near the east coast with plants found in KwaZulu-Natal Province from near Durban northward into Swaziland. This species favors hot, dry conditions and is found frequently in Acacia woodland and brush, a habitat where few other epiphytic orchids occur, as well as on succulent Euphorbia trees. Plants usually grow in dry savannah regions at low elevations near 350 ft. (100m), but may also be found in evergreen forests at elevations up to 2300 ft. (700 m).
Cultivation:
Read more of Cultivation of Mystacidium capense (L.f.) Schltr.,
Distribution:
S. Africa
References:
Rep. Bot. Exch. Cl. Brit. Isles, 1916, 637 (1917) Ball, J. 1978. Southern African epiphytic orchids. Conservation Press Ltd., Johannesburg. Koopowitz, H. 1994. The fragrance clock. Orchid Digest 58(2): 54. la Croix, I. and E. la Croix. 1997. African orchids in the wild and in cultivation. Timber Press, Portland, OR. McQueen, J., and B. McQueen. 1992. Miniature orchids. Timber Press, Portland, OR. Stewart, J., with H. Linder, E. Schlepe, and A. Hall. 1982. Wild Orchids of Southern Africa. Macmillan South Africa, Ltd., Johannesburg. Tropicos W3, Missouri Botanical Garden, Nomenclatural Data Base, March 8, 1998 at http: //mobot.mobot.org/cgi-bin/search_pick. Van Ede, G. 1990. Mystacidium brayboniae "Boom-Elf" and other white-flowered mystacidiums. Schlechteriana 1(3): 122-127; WCSP (2017). 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. 07.03-2017; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
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Photograph© Lourens Grobler. Image used with kind permission. Photograph© Lourens Grobler. Image used with kind permission. Photograph© Lourens Grobler. Image used with kind permission. Photograph© Lourens Grobler. Image used with kind permission. Photograph© Lourens Grobler. Image used with kind permission.