AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium foliosum Sw., Kongl. Vetensk. Acad. Nya Handl. 21: 216 (1800).
Homotypic Synonyms:

Diplecthrum foliosum (Sw.) Pers., Syn. Pl. 2: 509 (1807).
Description:

Plants erect to decumbent with rather fleshy, glabrous stems (17-) 23-31 (39) cm high. Leaves 2-3, set near the base of the plant but borne away from the soil surface; transition to the sheaths above rather abrupt; the longest lamina ovate, cucullate, 4-10 cm long, curving from an erect sheathing base to nearly horizontal. Sheaths rather loosely enclosing the stem, which they usually fully cover, the apices often spreading. Inforescences rather dense, 4-15 cm long with about 4-30 flowers. Perianth colours pale yellowish green, tinged purple-brown on the side sepals and labellum, deepening in older flowers; apices of spurs bright green; column pale green with a streak of purple in the stigma above each staminode, the connective green. Scent faint to fairly strong, quincelike. Bracts partly deflexed at anthesis, fully so later, 1,2-1,5 times the length of the 12-16 mm nearly straight, sub-erect ovary, 4-10 mm broad, minutely ciliate. Sepals and petals connate with the labellum in the basal 1/4, strongly recurving soon after anthesis; odd sepal and petals alike, oblong, obtuse; lateral sepals slightly larger, falcate, 5-6 mm long. Labellum from the side taller than broad, the adaxial ridge on the mid-nerve moderately distinct, the aperture oblong, 3-4 mm high, the apex with a strongly reflexed flap, 1 -2 mm long, obtuse. Spurs20-25 mm long, lying close to the ovary and stem. Column tightly filling the upper 3/4 of the galea, the basal portion 4 mm long, curved above. Stigma erect, semicircular, 1 mm high. Rostellum deltoid-acuminate, beak-like, 1 mm long, the two minute oval glands adjacent at the apex. Staminodes as relatively large pulvini above the anthers.
Habitat:
The two localities are 50 km apart, separated by the low-lying Cape Flats. Both places have black, peaty soil. Fires, flower-picking and other damage to the plants are causing fluctuating population numbers.
Distribution:
The distribution appears to be extremely restricted, confined to the summer mist-belt on Table Mountain and the Kogelberg in the south-western Cape.

Images:
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Botanical Drawing / Herbarium
satyrium foliosum
Photograph copyright Swiss Orchid Foundation at the Herbarium Jany Renz Image used with kind permission.