AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Satyrium macrophyllum Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 338 (1838).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Satyrium buchananii Rolfe in D.Oliver & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Trop. Afr. 7: 270 (1898), nom. illeg.
Satyrium cheirophorum Rolfe in D.Oliver & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Trop. Afr. 7: 265 (1898).
Satyrium speciosum Rolfe in D.Oliver & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Trop. Afr. 7: 574 (1898).
Satyrium morrumbalaensis De Wild., Pl. Nov. Horti Then.: t. 14 (1904).
Satyrium brachyrhynchum Schltr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 53: 529 (1915).
Description:

Plants erect, slender above the leaves, the stems usually tall. (25-) 48-80 (-104) cm high. Leaves 2-3, partly erect from near the base of the plant, with a rather abrupt transition to the sheaths; longest lamina 5-30 cm long, ovate-obtuse to oblong-lanceolate, somewhat V-shaped in transverse section. Sheaths mostly overlapping, the lower with the apices often partly spreading, somewhat closely clasping the stem. Inflorescence with the flowers standing separated and well away from the stem in 7-40 cm long spikes with (19-) 31 -64 (-87) flowers. Perianth colour white to deep pink, tinged to streaked darker along the median inner surfaces of the sepals and petals; anther sacs mostly deep maroon, the connective yellowish olive-green. Flowers very faintly scented. Bracts fully deflexed from close to their bases at anthesis, entire to very minutely ciliolate, narrowly lanceolate, 2-4 times the length of the slender, rather straight, 8-13 mm long ovary. Sepals 7-14 mm long, fused for % to % of their length with the other perianth parts, the free ends narrowly oblong, obtuse, partly spreading. Petals similar to the sepals but often slightly less spreading. Labellum from the side much broader than tall with the margins curved; the aperture obovate, 3-5 mm high; the apical reflexed flap about 0,5 mm high; the abaxial ridge minute, about 0,3 mm high along the median nerve; the base of the labellum very gradually tapering into the spur mouths. Spurs 13-26 mm long, from 1,3 to 2,9 times the length of the ovary, tapering gradually throughout to the tip, mostly lying close to the ovary and the stem. Column lying in the back and apex of the galea, leaving the entrance to the spurs partly clear; the basal portion slender, slightly curved, about 7 mm long. Stigma about 1 mm high, 2-3 mm wide, semi-orbicular to lunate. Rostellum abour 1,8 mm long, broadly oblong, the apex with three minute, equal, distant lobes between which lie the two semi-globose, terminal glands. Staminodes forming large pulvini at the rostellum and stigma bases.
Notes:
This variable species has been known as Satyrium cheirophorum Rolfe in East and Central Africa, but it is difficult to find any way in which it can be separated from the South African Satyrium macrophyllum. In Malawi, 2 different "forms" can be distinguished. Plants growing in montane grassland are smaller and more slender, usually less than 30 cm high, with deep carmine-red flowers blooming in February–March, while those occuring in woodland or grassland at lower altitudes are large and robust, with pink flowers and bloom during June and into July. owever, details of the flowers seem to be identical.
Habitat:
Flowering of Satyrium macrophyllum takes place chiefly in late February and March, rarely as early as November or as late as April. The altitudes of localities range from about 350 to 1800 metres. It is an uncommon species that is found in local colonies on moist grassy slopes and flats.
Distribution:
The distribution extends from Zululand through the inland parts of Natal to Transkei, a range of about 600 km.

Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

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