AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Mystacidium venosum Harv. ex Rolfe in W.H.Harvey & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Cap. 5(3): 79 (1912).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Mystacidium taeniophylloides Kraenzl., Vierteljahrsschr. Naturf. Ges. Zürich 74: 109 (1929).
Description:
A small, up to 5 in. (12 cm) wide monopodial epiphyte with numerous long roots that are 0.1-0.2 in. (0.3-0.6 cm) in diameter and are gray-green with white streaks. Pseudobulb/stem: 0.2 in. (0.5 cm) long. The short stem is enclosed by old leaf bases. Leaves: 0.6-2.4 in. (1.5-6.0 cm) long by 0.3-0.4 in. (0.7-1.1 cm) wide. Two to five rather fleshy, spreading, elliptic to oblanceolate leaves with unequally bilobed tips are distichously arranged on the stem. Leaves may sometimes drop and be completely absent during the long dry season. When viewed against the light, reticulate venation is obvious in the leaves, hence the name venosum which comes from the Latin word 'venosus' meaning 'veined'. Inflorescence: 1.2-3.5 in. (3-9 cm) long. Several (2-3) pendent flower spikes arise from among the roots at the base of the stem. Flowers are carried in 2 ranks in an alternate arrangement on each stem. Flowers: Up to 12 crystalline white blossoms that are fragrant at night are carried on each inflorescence. The spreading flowers are 0.6-0.8 in. (1.5-2.0 cm) across. The erect, lanceolate dorsal sepal is 0.3 in. (0.8 cm) long by 0.1 in. (0.25 cm) wide near the base, tapering to a sharply pointed, reflexed apex. Lateral sepals are obliquely spreading, 0.4 in. (0.9 cm) long by 0.1 in. (0.3 cm) wide near the narrow base and then taper gradually to a sharply pointed tip. The rather small triangular petals are 0.2 in. (0.5 cm) long by 0.06 in. (0.15 cm) wide at the base. They taper gradually from the base to sharply pointed tips and are reflexed toward the tip. The 3-lobed lip is 0.2 in. (0.6 cm) long by 0.08 in. (0.2 cm) wide with toothlike lateral lobes at the base and a lanceolate, sharply pointed midlobe. There is a long, straight to slightly curved spur at the base of the lip that is 1.2-1.8 in. (3.0-4.5 cm) long, tapering to a sharply pointed tip from a fairly narrow opening.
Habitat:
This epiphytic orchid is found in eastern Cape Province from near Port Elizabeth northward through KwaZulu-Natal Province and Northern Province (Transvaal), with its occurrence also reported in Swaziland. Plants are found on a variety of host trees in rather varied habitats from near sea level in hot, humid conditions to cooler, moist, mountain forests at elevations up to 4900 ft. (1500 m), and they grow both in rather shaded conditions as well as in bright, exposed situations.
Cultivation:
Read more of Cultivation of Mystacidium venosum Harv. ex Rolfe
Distribution:
Mozambique to S .Africa
References:
Ball, J. 1978. Southern African epiphytic orchids. Conservation Press Ltd., Johannesburg. 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, 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 ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission. Photograph ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission. Photograph ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission. Photograph ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission. Photograph ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission. Photograph ©Leo Klemm. Image used with kind permission.