AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium breve Rolfe in D.Oliver & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Trop. Afr. 7: 274 (1898).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Satyrium breve var. minor Summerh., Bot. Not. 1937: 189 (1937).
Description:
A terrestrial herb 1-7 dm. high, mostly glabrous; tubers ellipsoid, ovoid or fusiform, 1-4 cm. long, 5-22 mm. in diameter, glabrous or ± tomentose; roots slender, flexuous, pubescent. Sterile stem up to 19 cm. long, 4-leaved; lower leaves sheath-like, adpressed, the upper leaves lanceolate, to 31 cm. long and 2 cm. broad. Flowering stem erect, slender to rather stout, leafy along its entire length; leaves 5-8, the lowermost 1-3 sheath-like, obtuse, the remainder ± erect, lanceolate or narrowly lanceolate, acute, up to 6-21 (-31) cm. long and 1-4 cm. broad, the uppermost much smaller. Inflorescence ± pyramidal, 2-10(-13) cm. long, 2-5 cm. in diameter, densely 10- to many-flowered; bracts spreading, the lower ones reflexed, lanceolate, acute, 7-35 mm. long, hairy inside. Flowers almost spreading, sessile, pink, deep red, mauve or purple, sometimes with darker markings; ovary 6-8 mm. long. Sepals and petals projecting forwards, united to one another in their lower half or third and with the lip in their lower third or quarter; intermediate sepal narrowly oblong-oblanceolate, rounded, 7.5-21 mm. long, 1.5-2(-3) mm. broad; laterals obliquely oblong-elliptical, obtuse, shorter than the intermediate but 2.5-7 mm. broad, several-veined. Petals similar to intermediate sepal but narrower, like it 3-veined; all tepals pubescent inside at the base. Lip very convex with a wide mouth, the apex narrowed and erect, 7-16 mm. long; spurs short and broad, 1.5-5.5 mm. long, ± 2 mm. in diameter. Column slightly curved, the slender stalk longer than the fertile part, 5-8 mm. long, glabrous; stigma semi-orbicular, concave, ± 1.5 mm. high and 2.5-3.5 mm. broad, rostellum porrect, truncate, shortly and equally toothed in front.
Habitat:
Wet grasslands and swamps, rarely in bushes. Alt. 1000-2300 m.
Notes:
This species is very variable in plant and flower size, and has an unusually long flowering season. On Zomba Plateau in southern Malawi, plants with few-flowered inflorescences and larger, dark-coloured flowers and relatively long spurs (5 mm) are shorter in stature and flower earlier than plants with many-flowered inflorescences and smaller, paler, short-spurred flowers. It is possible that these could be distinguished at varietal level but detailed work is necessary.
Phenology:
Flowering in July-February.
Notes:
The closest relative of Satyrium breve appears to be Satyrium paludosum Rchb.f. Both species differ in the flower colour and presence - Satyrium breve, or absence - Satyrium paludosum, of the pubescence on inner surface of the tepals.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus, warm to cold growing terrestrial.
Distribution:
Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique.
References:
Orchidaceae of West-central Africa, vol. 1, Gdansk University Press Gdansk 2010; Flora of Tropical East Africa Orchidaceae Part 1 Summerhayes 1968; The Orchids of South Central Africa Williamson 1977; Flora Zambesiaca Vol 11 Orchidaceae Part 1 Pope 1995; Field Guide to the Ethiopian Orchids Demissew, Cribb & Rasmussen 2004; Flora of Tropical Africa, Vol 7, page 12, (1898) Author: (By R. A. Rolfe.); 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; Additions to the Orchid Flora of Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe Timotheüs van der Niet, Kew Bulletin, Vol. 61, No. 2 (2006), pp. 261-264
Images:
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Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ
satyrium breve 01 satyrium breve 02 satyrium breve 03 satyrium breve 04
Photograph© Margaret
Westrop. Image used
with kind permission
from African plants
– A Photo Guide.
www.africanplants.
senckenberg.de
Photograph© Margaret
Westrop. Image used
with kind permission
from African plants
– A Photo Guide.
www.africanplants.
senckenberg.de
Photograph© Margaret
Westrop. Image used
with kind permission
from African plants
– A Photo Guide.
www.africanplants.
senckenberg.de
Photograph© Margaret
Westrop. Image used
with kind permission
from African plants
– A Photo Guide.
www.africanplants.
senckenberg.de