AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Benthamia africana (Lindl.) Hermans, Kew Bull. 69(9517): 10 (2014).
Homotypic Names:
Spiranthes africana Lindl., Bot. Reg. 10: t. 823 (1824).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Satorkis spirosatis Thouars, Hist. Orchid.: t. 9 (1822).
Satyrium spirale Thouars, Hist. Orchid.: t. 9 (1822), nom. illeg.
Benthamia spiralis (A.Rich.) A.Rich., Mém. Soc. Hist. Nat. Paris 4: 39 (1828).
Habenaria spiralis A.Rich., Mém. Soc. Hist. Nat. Paris 4: 21 (1828), nom. superfl.
Herminium spirale (A.Rich.) Rchb.f., Bonplandia (Hannover) 3: 213 (1855).
Peristylus spiralis (A.Rich.) S.Moore in J.G.Baker, Fl. Mauritius: 335 (1877), nom. illeg.
Habenaria minutiflora Ridl., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 21: 503 (1885).
Habenaria spiralis (A.Rich.) Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 260 (1895), nom. illeg.
Habenaria dissimulata Schltr., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 33(2): 404 (1915), nom. superfl.
Benthamia minutiflora (Ridl.) Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 29 (1924).
Benthamia spiralis var. dissimulata (Schltr.) H.Perrier, Bull. Soc. Bot. France 81: 34 (1934).
Description:
Plants terrestrial, 35-60 cm tall with 3-5 leaves (rarely a single leaf), inserted from the base to the middle, the inferiors often shorter and wider (7-12 x 1.2-1.5cm) than the Superiors (15-17cm. x 5-8 mm), with large sheaths, limbus narrowly lingulate or linear-lanceolate, very acute, slightly attenuate-petiolate basally, above the leaves there are 3-4 sheaths, linear-acuminate, very acute. Inflorescence narrow more or less elongated (7-30 cm) and twisted; bracts elongated in a long filiform point, equal to the ovary; flower greenish, small (2-3 mm without the pedicel). Sepals obtuse, lingulate (2.5-3 x 0.7-0.9 mm), the median obscurely 3 veined, the laterals 1 veined, with the dorsal edge slightly projecting. Petals slightly wider, more obtuse toward the obtuse thick apex. Labellum (2-3 x 1-1 .8 mm) trilobed apically, the median lobe thicker and longer than the laterals, which are flat and sometimes nearly absent; spur saccate, subsquare, entire or slightly emarginate apically, longer than wide (l mm), sometimes the same length as width. Anther retuse or obtusely apiculate, staminodes short, but wide and rounded, not more than half the length of the anther. Rostellum with the median lobe narrow, longer than the laterals. Pedicel 5-7 mm.
Habitat:
In cool places in woods, marshlands, woodland margins and shaded wet rocks at elevations of 1000 to 1500 meters .
Flowering all year, common.
Note:
This species is quite variable with a large number of larger forms of the leaves, lobes of the labellum (nearly absent or more or less obvious) and the anther (shortly apiculate or not).
Distribution:
Mascarenes, Madagascar
References:
Flora of Madagascar Perrier 1939/81; Orchids of Madagascar Hermans, Du Puy, Cribb & Bosser 2007; Field Guide to the Orchids of Madagascar Cribb & Herman 2009
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

Habitat/In situ  Habitat/In situ 
benthamia spiralis 01  benthamia spiralis  02 
Photograph ©Frederic
Henze. Image used with
kind permission. 
Photograph ©Frederic
Henze. Image used with
kind permission.