Satyrium ligulatum Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 342 (1838).
Satyrium emarcidum Bolus, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 22: 67 (1885).
Plants rather stout to slender, the stems erect, (9-) 17-38 (-55) cm high. Leaves 1 -4, the lower spreading near the soil surface to partly erect, the upper partly erect and with a gradual transition to the sheaths; the longest lamina 3-14 cm long, ovate to narrowly ovate, obtuse to acute, nearly flat to V-shaped in transverse section. Sheaths usually loosely clasping the stem, those below less so and with partly spreading apices; the sheaths distant to overlapping especially in shorter plants. Inflorescence with the flowers moderately well spaced especially the lower; rather slender, about 2 cm in diameter and 2-33 cm long with (4-) 10-35 (-83) flowers. Perianth colour yellowish green to dull creamy white with exposed parts tinged light to dark purple, the elongate tips of the segments becoming brown a few hours after anthesis. Flower scent fairly strong, sweet and pungent. Bracts becoming deflexed at anthesis, lanceolate, 1,5 to 3,0 times the length of th 7-11 mm long ovary, the margins glabrous to very minutely ciliolate. Sepals 5-10 mm long, fused in the basal 1/6 with the petals and labellum, narrowly lanceolate, obtuse; the odd sepal strongly recurving along its length, later sometimes becoming coiled; lateral sepals standing up close to the sides of the labellum aperture for % of their length, then abruptly twisted and reflexed to spreading. Petals standing up close to the lateral sepals for 1/3 to 2/3 of their length then twisting to spread away from the labellum aperture. Labellum with the apical flap prominent, 2-3 mm long and partly reflexed, resembling the linear sepal and petal apices; the aperture oblong, partly obscured by the petals and sepals; galea from the side semi-globose with the margins in line with the ovary, the three main nerves marked by ridges. Spurs 5-10 mm long, close to curved away from the ovary then returning to it, arising abruptly from the base of the labellum. Column filling all but the apex of the galea, the basal portion variously curved, 2 mm long. Stigma rather narrowly obovate-truncate, 1,5-3,5 mm long. Rostellum oblong, the glands laterally inserted about 3/4-way along its length. Anther with the connective extended to form a 0,7 mm long oblong flap curved with the apex pointing to the rostellum. Staminode inconspicuous at the base of the rostellum.
It may be locally frequent, in a wide variety of habitats from among coastal scrub on sands to fairly shaded forest sites on peaty loam, to moist or even marshy flats among grass. Altitudes range from near sea level to about 2 000 m.
Flowering of Satyrium ligulatum takes places chiefly in the spring and early summer from September to December, rarely as early as August or as late as January.
The colour of the flowers is white or pale pink.
The distribution extends from the South-Western to the Eastern Cape with a few outlying localities in Transkei, Natal and the Orange Free State, a range of about 1300 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; The Cape Orchids Vol 2 Liltved & Johnson 2012
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