AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium sceptrum Schltr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 53: 527 (1915).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Satyrium acutirostrum Summerh., Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1931: 384 (1931).
Description:
A terrestrial herb 3-10.5 dm. high, glabrous except for the roots; tubers ellipsoid to conical-fusiform or fusiform, 2.-5-5.-5 cm. long, 8-17 mm. in diameter, glabrous; roots slender, flexuous, pubescent. Sterile stem up to 12 cm. long, 2-5-leaved; lower 1-3 leaves reduced to tight sheaths, the upper 1-2 lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate or lanceolate-elliptical, acute or shortly acuminate, up to 10-47 cm. long and 2-7 cm. broad. Fertile stem erect, terete, almost entirely covered by adpressed sheaths; sheaths 7-11, lanceolate, acute, the lower ones up to 7-16 cm. long and 1.5-4.5 cm. broad, the upper ones often much smaller, similar to the bracts. Inflorescence cylindrical, 8-32 cm. long, 2-3 cm. in diameter, densely many-flowered; bracts usually soon becoming reflexed, lanceolate, acute, 1.5-3.5 cm. long. Flowers curved outwards, orange-yellow to flame-coloured, very rarely white; pedicel with ovary slightly curved, ± 1 cm. long. Sepals and petals decurved, united in their basal fourth to one another and to the lip; intermediate sepal oblong-elliptical, obtuse or rounded, 6-10mm. long, 1-5-2.5 mm. broad; laterals obliquely elliptical-oblong, subacute to obtuse, a little longer than the intermediate, 2.5-3.5 mm. broad. Petals similar to intermediate sepal but oblique, 2-3 mm. broad; all tepals 3-veined. Lip very convex and somewhat hooded, the apex shortly but distinctly reflexed, 6-9 mm. long and ± the same in breadth when spread out, mouth rather wide; spurs parallel to the ovary, slender, somewhat tapering, 1-1.5 cm. long, 1-2 mm. in diameter at the base. Column erect, 5-8 mm. high, the slender stalk longer than the fertile portion; anther-loculi pendent, ellipsoid; stigma erect, flat or with the sides curved forwards, transversely oblong, 1-2 mm. tall, 2-3.5 mm. broad, rostellum porrect, 3-lobed, the side lobes short, tooth-like, the middle lobe much longer, spoon-shaped from a narrower base.
Habitat:
Upland grasslands, open bushlands, often in damp places. Alt. 1500-2700 m.
Phenology:
Flowering all year round.
Notes:
Satyrium sceptrum appears to be related to Satyrium sacculatum (Rendle) Rolfe. Its lip, however, is thin, mouth wide, and column part long and slender. In Satyrium sacculatum the lip is thick, fleshy, mouth narrow, and column part short and massive.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
The Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe.
References:
Orchidaceae of West-central Africa, vol. 1, Gdansk University Press Gdansk 2010; La Croix, I. et al. (1991). Orchids of Malawi A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam; La Croix, I. & Cribb, P.J. (1995). Orchidaceae (Part 1) Flora Zambesiaca 11(1); Flora of Tropical East Africa Summerhayes Orchidaceae Part 1 1968; Molecular Markers Reject Monophyly of the Subgenera of Satyrium (Orchidaceae) Timotheüs van der Niet, Systematic Botany, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2005), pp. 263-274; Diverse pollination systems of the twin-spurred orchid genus Satyrium in African grasslands Steven D. Johnson, Plant Systematics and Evolution, Vol. 292, No. 1/2 (March 2011), pp. 95-103
Images:
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Habitat/In situ
satyrium sceptrum
Photograph Karl Senghas©
Swiss Orchid Foundation at
the Herbarium Jany Renz
Image used with kind
permission.