Bonatea polypodantha (Rchb.f.) L.Bolus, Fl. Pl. South Africa 8: t. 302 (1928).
Habenaria polypodantha Rchb.f., Otia Bot. Hamburg.: 97 (1881).
Habenaria insignis Schltr., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 20(56): 32 (1895).
Bonatea insignis (Schltr.) Summerh., Kew Bull. 7: 463 (1952).
Erect, decumbent or scandent terrestrial herbs, 44-330 mm tall; tubers 1-3, spreading, elongate-oblong, tomentose. Stem slender, 34-325 x 1.5-3.5 mm. Leaves 4-8, margins entire, smooth; basal leaves 1-3, dense, sheathing, lanceolate to broadly-elliptical, acute, 21-157 x 836 mm, middle leaves 2-5, lax, cauline, narrowly-lanceolate to lanceolate, acuminate, 11-29 x 3-12 mm. Inflorescence cylindrical, 42-172 x 39-95 mm, lax, 2-12-flowered; bracts similar to upper leaves, sheathing, lanceolate, acuminate to apiculate, 9.0-30.5 x 2-6 mm. Flowers spreading, pale green and white, pedicel and ovary suberect to erect, 19-36 mm long. Dorsal sepal pale green, erect, narrowly-elliptical, galeate, acute, 7-11 x 2.5-5.0 mm; lateral sepals pale green to white, patent, ovate, acuminate to apiculate, base oblique, 6-10 x 3.5-7.0 mm, adnate to lip and stigmatic processes for 2-5 mm. Petals pale green to white, upper lobe erect, linear, acute to acuminate, 7.0-12.0 x 0.5-1.5 mm, adnate to dorsal sepal, lower lobe spreading horizontally, weakly deflexed, linear-falcate, tip curved, acuminate to apiculate, 22.5-35.5 x 0.5-1.0 mm, adnate to claw of lip for 1.5-5.0 mm. Lip pale green to white, claw 3.5-8.5 mm, median lobe descending, curved forward, linear, acute to acuminate, 11-22 x 0.5-1.5 mm, lateral lobes descending, strongly divergent, linearfalcate, tips curved, acuminate to apiculate, 25-48 x 0.5-1.5 mm; spur toothed, (20-)31-47 mm long, clavate apex 10.5-23.0 mm long, sometimes bent forward. Anther erect, acute, 3.0-4.5 mm long, canals slender, 4.0-7.5 mm long. Stigmatic processes clavate, projecting forwards and deflexed, sub-parallel, 6-11 mm long, base adnate to lip. Rostellum 3-lobed, base auriculate, median lobe narrowly triangularrostrate, acuminate, margin smooth, 2.5-6.5 mm long, lateral lobes linear, fused to anther canals, sub-erect to 45°, sub-parallel, 2-5 mm long. Flowering period: January to April.
Grassland, savannah, forest and thicket, to 2000 m altitude.
Bonatea polypodantha and B. pulchella are distinct from other Bonatea species in their basal leaves and middle rostellum lobe that is narrowlytriangulate rostrate. Bonatea polypodantha differs from B. pulchella in its smaller stature and shorter spurs « 50 mm).
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