AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Bonatea antennifera Rolfe, Gard. Chron., III, 1905: 450 (1905).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Habenaria antennifera (Rolfe) Schltr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 53: 508 (1915), nom. illeg.
Habenaria macrorchis Schltr., Ann. Transvaal Mus. 10: 245 (1924).
Bonatea speciosa var. antennifera (Rolfe) Sommerville, Contr. Bolus Herb. 10: 157 (1982).
Description:
Erect, decumbent or scandent terrestrial herbs, 260-1258 mm tall; tubers 1-12, spreading, elongate-oblong, tomentose. Stem robust, 255-1250 x 3.5-11.0 mm. Leaves 6-21, lax to dense, cauline, lower sheathing, blades reduced, oblong-lanceolate to oblong-ovate, acute to acuminate, margins entire, smooth to undulate, 42-190 x 10-53 mm. 153 Inflorescence cylindrical, 38-339 x 79-181 mm, lax to dense, 4-44flowered; bracts similar to upper leaves, sheathing, ovate-lanceolate to ovate-oblong, acuminate to apiculate, 19.5-50.5 x 6.0-14.5 mm. Flowers spreading, green and white, pedicel and ovary sub-erect, 26.560.5 mm long. Dorsal sepal green, sub-erect to erect, elliptical to oblong-ovate, galeate, acute to acuminate, 14-23 x 5.0-8.5 mm; lateral sepals green, patent, strongly deflexed, oblong-lanceolate to ovate, acute to apiculate, base oblique, margins weakly to strongly revolute with acute tooth on lower margin, 13-26 x 5-10 mm, adnate to lip and stigmatic processes for 4.5-9.5 mm. Petals upper lobe green, erect, narrowly-falcate, acute to acuminate, 13-24 x 1.0-3.5 mm, adnate to dorsal sepal, lower lobe white with green tip, projecting forwards, ascending, weakly divergent, linear-falcate, tip curved, acuminate to apiculate, (18-)24-43 x 0.5-2.0 mm, adnate to claw of lip for 2.5-6.5 mm. Lip claw 6.0-14.0 mm, median lobe green, descending, geniculate, sometimes apically recurved, linear-lanceolate to narrowly-oblong, acute-acuminate, 15.0-33.5 x 1.0-3.5 mm, lateral lobes white with green tips, projecting forward, ascending, diverging, linear-falcate, tips curved, acuminate, 17.5-44.5 x 0.5-2.0 mm; spur toothed, 27-44(-58) mm long, clavate apex 8.0-15.0(-18.5) mm long. Anther erect, acute, 4.5-7.5 mm long, canals slender, 10-14 mm long. Stigmatic processes clavate to spathulate, projecting forwards and deflexed, sub-parallel, (11.0-)15.0-21.5 mm long, base adnate to lip. Rostellum 3-lobed, base auriculate, median lobe cucullate, acute to acuminate, margin ciliate, 7.5-11.5 mm long, lateral lobes linear, fused to anther canals, slightly deflexed to sub-erect 45°, sub-parallel, 2.05.5 mm long.
Habitat:
Grassland, savannah and forest fringes, at near sea level to 1700 m altitude.
Flowering period:
March to May, rarely to July.
Note:
Plants have characteristically glaucous leaves. Populations of B. antennifera from northern KwaZulu-Natal are atypical, flowering from June to July with markedly elongate spurs of 51-58 mm (typical flowering is from March to May and spur length 27-44 mm). Labellum fusion and anterior lobe adnation to the lip, as well as stigmatic process, rostellum side lobe and canal length, fall within the maximum size range for the species. The rostellum side lobes are distinctive in posture being semi-erect (45° angle) rather than porrect.
Distribution:
S. Trop. & S. Africa
References:
McMurtry, D., Grobler, L, Grobler, J., Burns, S 2008. Field Guide to the Orchids of Northern South Africa; Linder, H.P. & Kurzweil, H. (1999). Orchids of Southern Africa A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands and Swaziland. Umdaus Press. Hatfield, South Africa; African Orchids in the Wild and Cultivation La Croix 1997; Flora Capensis, Vol 5, Part 3, page 3, (1913) Author: (By R. A. ROLFE.)
Images:
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Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ
Bonatea antennifera 01 Bonatea antennifera 02 Bonatea antennifera 03 Bonatea antennifera 04 Bonatea antennifera  05 Bonatea antennifera  06
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.
Photograph© Paul Minnaar.
Image used with kind
permission.