Satyrium sphaerocarpum Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 337 (1838).
Satyrium militare Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 342 (1838).
Plants erect, somewhat slender above the basal leaves, the stems glabrous, (1 7-) 22-40 (-51) cm high. Leaves 2, rarely 1, spreading near the soil surface to partly erect, with a generally abrupttransition to the sheaths; the longest lamina 3-17 cm long, oblong to ovate, usually acute, nearly flat to V-shaped in transverse section. Sheaths somewhat loosely clasping the stem, distant from each other to overlapping, the lowest with the apical portion often partly spreading. Inflorescence rather dense but not slender, 3-18 cm long with (3-) 8-19 (-27) rather large flowers borne somewhat close to the stem. Perianth colour white to dull white or cream, variously steaked, speckled and even fully covered on some inner surfaces with brownish red to red-purple. Flower scent very faint or absent. Bracts partly to fully deflexed at anthesis, the margins very minutely ciliolate, 2-5 times the length of the 7-9 mm long ovary. Sepals 13-18mm long, about 1/4 to 1/3 fused with the petals and the lower side of the labellum; free parts of the sepals narrowly oblong, obtuse to acute, slightly to partly decurved along their length. Petals similar to the sepals, sometimes less decurved. Labellum from the side a little taller than broad, the margins almost straight to somewhat curved back distally; the apical flap 1 mm high, reflexed, very broadly deltoid-obtuse; the aperture 7-10 mm high, broadly elliptic-oblong, adaxially with broadly conical entrances to the spurs, the adaxial ridge about 0,5-1,0 mm high along most of the mid-nerve. Spurs 8-15 mm long, slightly longer to slightly shorter than the ovary, straight to curved distally, lying close to the ovary artu stem. Column lying in the back and apex of the galea, leaving a large space beneath it; basal portion slender, rather straight, 9-11 mm long. Stigma about 1,5 mm high, broadly semi-orbicular. Rostellum much smaller than the stigma, less than 0,5 mm long, obtuse, with much of the upper surface occupied by two deltoid, terminal glands. Staminodes covering part of the anther sacs and the bases of the stigma and rostellum.
Altitudes range from close to sea level to about 2 000 m. The plant can be rare to locally frequent, in moist grassy uplands and coastal sandy flats.
Flowering of Satyrium sphaerocarpum takes place through a wide range of summer months, from November to March, rarely in October or April. There is a tendancy for flowering to be earlier at the coast.
The distribution range extends through coastal and adjacent inland districts from the Eastern Cape through Transkei to Zululand and southern Mozambique, a distance of about 1000 km
A revision of the southern African species of Satyrium. [A V Hall; Edmund A C L E Schelpe; Nicola C Anthony] 1982; Wild Orchids of Southern Africa Stewart, Linder, Schelpe & Hall 1982; Orchids of Southern Africa Linder & Kurzweil 1999
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