AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Bonatea saundersioides (Kraenzl. & Schltr.) Cortesi, Ann. Bot. (Rome) 2: 363 (1905).
Homotypic Synonyms:

Habenaria saundersioides Kraenzl. & Schltr. in F.W.L.Kraenzlin, Orchid. Gen. Sp. 1: 181 (1897).
Heterotypic Synonyms:

Habenaria umvotensis Rolfe in W.H.Harvey & auct. suc. (eds.), Fl. Cap. 5(3): 133 (1912).
Description:
Erect, decumbent or scandent terrestrial herbs, 200-600 mm tall; tubers 1-8, spreading, elongate-oblong, tomentose. Stem slender to sturdy, 195-595 x 2.5-8.5 mm. Leaves sometimes withered at flowering, 5-12, lax, cauline,lower leaves intermediately basal, sheathing, lanceolate to narrowly-elliptical, acute to apiculate, margins entire, smooth, 54-193 x 7-28 mm. Inflorescence cylindrical, 65-262 x 52-95 mm, lax to dense, 5-41-flowered; bracts sometimes withered at flowering, similar to upper leaves, sheathing, ovate-lanceolate, apiculate, 17.5-30.5 x 4.0-8.5 mm. Flowers spreading, green and white, pedicel with ovary projecting forwards to sub-erect, 16-29 mm long. Dorsal sepal green, sub-erect, elliptical-oblong, galeate, acute to acuminate, 8.5-15.0 x 3.0-5.5 mm; lateral sepals green, patent, strongly deflexed, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate to apiculate, base oblique, margins weakly to strongly revolute with small acute tooth on lower margin, 10-15 x 3.5-6.5 mm, adnate to lip and stigmatic processes for 2.5-5.5 mm. Petals upper lobe green, erect, linear, acute to acuminate, 8-14 x 0.5-1.5 mm, adnate to dorsal sepal, lower lobe white, spreading horizontally, strongly deflexed, weakly to strongly falcate, linear to linear-lanceolate, tip curved, acuminate to apiculate, (13-)16-24 x 0.5-2.0(-3.0) mm, adnate to claw of lip for 2.5-4.5 mm. Lip claw 4.5-9.0 mm, median lobe green, descending, geniculate, sometimes apically recurved, linear, acute, 8.5-20.0 x 0.5-1.5 mm, lateral lobes green to white, descending, diverging, weakly to strongly falcate, linear, tips curved, acuminate to apiculate, 14-34 x 0.5-2.0 mm; spur toothed, curved, 16-30 mm long, clavate apex 9.5-24.0 mm long. Anther erect, acute, 3.0-5.5 mm long, canals slender, 5.0-8.0 mm long. Stigmatic processes clavate, projecting forwards and deflexed, weakly divergent, 4.5-9.0 mm long, base adnate to lip. Rostellum 3-lobed, base auriculate, median lobe narrowly-cucullate, apiculate, margin ciliate, 4.0-6.5 mm long, lateral lobes linear, fused to anther canals, projecting forwards to sub-erect 45°, sub-parallel, 1.02.5 mm long. Flowering period: rarely March to May, June to August.
Habitat:
In shade in forested ravines and in woodland, in dryish positions, 600-900 m.
Notes:
Colour variation occurs in the perianth of B. saundersioides with either green or white labellum side lobes. Bonatea saundersioides and sister taxa Bonatea cassidea Sond. are closely allied. The taxa have comparable rostellum, stigmatic process and spur structure, but B. saundersioides differs in its longer and narrower lower petal lobes and labellum side lobes.
Distribution:
Mpumalanga to KwaZulu-Natal