AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium stenopetalum subsp. stenopetalum
Description:
Plants rather slender, erect, (15-) 22-40 (-56) cm high, the leaves and stem glabrous. Leaves stiff-textured, the lowest angled 20-50° away from the ground, passing smoothly through 2-4 intermediate leaves into the sheaths; the longest leaf lamina elliptic, often acute, 2-8 cm long. Sheaths rather tightly enclosing the stem, usually leaving about a third of its length exposed between them. Inflorescence rather loosely flowered, 3-18 cm long, with (5-) 10-16 (-27) flowers. Perianth colour white, faintly tinged with cream and with traces of pink on sepal and labellum apices; spurs green to brown distally; column white to pale green, the connective green. Scent soapy and pungent. Bracts not deflexed, stiff-textured, 0,9-1,2 (rarely 1,9) times the length of the 12-21 mm ovary, minutely ciliolate, concave, 5-12 mm broad when flattened. Sepals free almost to the base where they unite to form a short mentum, for about a third of their length forming a loose tube with the petals and labellum around the column-base, then gradually recurving distally; lateral sepals lanceolate, 7-13 mm long, the odd sepal similar, petals similar to the sepals but recurving more distally. Labellum from the side taller than broad, lacking an adaxial ridge along the midnerve, the margins of the galea sweeping smoothly up into the elongate, recurved, 4 mm-long apical flap, papillose around the base of the column and into the spurs. Spurs 19-30 mm long, usually lying close to the ovary and the stem. Column fitting closely into the back of the labellum, the curved base 3-4 mm long. Stigma about 2 mm tall, quadrate to broadly obovate, truncate to emarginate. Rostellum about as long as the stigma, the two sub-terminal glands orbicular. Staminodes oblong.
Habitat:
Flowering of Satyrium stenopetalum ssp. stenopetalum takes place mainly in November, sometimes as early as September or as late as December. It has been found in small, occasional colonies of a few plants, often flowering after fires, in open, stony, marshy or dry places among grass and fynbos. It occurs chiefly at the lower altitudes of the coastal forelands, from 50 to 500 m, rarely above 700 m.
Distribution:
Its distribution extends from near Swellendam eastward through the Knysna area to Humansdorp, a range of about 400 km.