AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium acuminatum Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 339 (1838).
Description:
Plants slender to rather stout, erect, the stems (12-) 15-35 (-61) cm tall. Leaves two, both pressed flat onto the ground, with an abrupt transition to the sheaths above; the longest lamina 2-8 cm long, fleshy, ovate to subrotund. obtuse. Sheaths somewhat conical from a tapered base, distally loosely enclosing the stem, leaving little of it exposed. Inflorescence rather dense, 3-20 cm long with (3-) 15-27 (-30) flowers. Perianth white to pale pink. Scent sweet, rather strong and somewhat pungent. Bracts partly to fully deflexed at anthesis, minutely ciliate in larger plants to almost glabrous in the smaller, 1,3-3,1 times the length of the 7-13 mm long ovary. Sepals and petals free to the base, the basal 2/3-3/4 forming a broadly U-shaped entrance to the galea, the apices deflexed; sepals 6-11 mm long, elliptic-oblong, obtuse, the petals similar. Labellum from the front as deep as high, the aperture to the galea 4-7 mm tall, narrowly to broadly elliptic; the apical flap 1mm long and partly bent backwards; the back with a weak dorsal ridge becoming prominent near the spurs. Spurs 12-22 mm long, usually lying close to the ovary and stem. Column filling the galea with sometimes both the stigma and the rostellum emergent; the curved base 3-5 mm long. Stigma 4 mm long, oblong, obtuse. Rostellum 3 mm long, elliptic, keeled below, rather flat above with a small upturned apex; the glands lateral, U-shaped, inserted about % of the way to the apex. Connective produced beyond the anther sacs into an obtuse to acute flap. Staminodes as deltoid pulvini below the basal margin of the rostellum.
Habitat:
Altitudes vary from 100 to 1 500 metres, chiefly 200-500 m. It is occasional to locally frequent, especially after fires in moist fynbos or grass and bush vegetation on open south-facing slopes.
Distribution:
Its distribution extends from Swellendam (with a few outliers a little westwards) east along the mountains and forelands of the southern Cape to Katberg and near Grahamstown in the eastern Cape, a distance of about 550 km.

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