Bonatea speciosa (L.f.) Willd., Sp. Pl. 4: 43 (1805).
Orchis speciosa L.f., Suppl. Pl.: 401 (1782).
Habenaria bonatea Rchb.f., Otia Bot. Hamburg.: 101 (1881).
Bonatea densiflora Sond., Linnaea 19: 80 (1846).
Habenaria densiflora (Sond.) Rchb.f. in W.G.Walpers, Ann. Bot. Syst. 1: 797 (1849).
Habenaria robusta N.E.Br., Gard. Chron., n.s., 24: 307 (1885), nom. illeg.
Erect, decumbent or scandent terrestrial herbs, 95-957 mm tall; tubers 1-8, spreading, elongate-oblong, tomentose. Stem robust, 90-950 x 2.5-14.0 mm. Leaves 4-19, lax to dense, cauline, lower sheathing, blades reduced, oblong-lanceolate to obovate, acute to acuminate, margins entire, smooth to undulate, 26-155 x 110-67 mm. Inflorescence cylindrical, 63-286 x 66.5-165.0 mm, lax to dense, 141- flowered; bracts similar to upper leaves, sheathing, ovatelanceolate to ovate, acuminate to apiculate, 15-53 x 6-23 mm. Flowers spreading, green and white, pedicel and ovary sub-erect, 24-64 mm long. Dorsal sepal green, sub-erect to erect, elliptical to oblongovate, galeate, acute to acuminate, 15-25 x 4.5-9.5 mm; lateral sepals green, patent, slightly deflexed, oblong-lanceolate to ovate, acute to apiculate, base oblique, margins weakly revolute with acute tooth on lower margin, 14.0-29.5 x 5.5-12.5 mm, adnate to lip and stigmatic processes for 5.0-13.5 mm. Petals upper lobe green, erect, narrowly-falcate, acute to acuminate, 13-26 x 1.0-3.5 mm, adnate to dorsal sepal, lower lobe white with green tip, projecting forwards, weakly to strongly deflexed, weakly to strongly divergent, falcate, linear to lanceolate, tip curved, acute to acuminate, (16-)19-39 x (1.5)2.0-5.5 mm, adnate to claw of lip for 3.5-9.8 mm. Lip green,claw 9.0-25.5 mm, median lobe descending, geniculate, apically recurved, linear-lanceolate to narrowly-oblong, acute to acuminate, 9.0-27.5 x 0.5-3.0 mm, lateral lobes descending, diverging, falcate, linear-lanceolate, tips curved, acuminate, 11.5-39.0 x 1-4 mm; spur toothed, 20-57 mm long, clavate apex (13.5-)15.0-32.0 mm long. Anther erect, acute, 5.0-8.5 mm long, canals slender, 9.5-16.5 mm long. Stigmatic processes clavate to slightly spathulate, projecting forwards and deflexed, sub-parallel, (11.5-)14.0-27.5 mm long, base adnate to lip. Rostellum 3-lobed, base auriculate, median lobe cucullate, acute to acuminate, margin ciliate, 5.0-11.5 mm long, lateral lobes linear, fused to anther canals, slightly deflexed to sub-erect 45°, sub-parallel, 2.5-7.0 mm long. Flowering period: June to December, rarely to March.
Grassland, savannah, forest, thicket, fynbos and nama-karoo, but most common in dune forest, from sea level to 1300 m altitude.
Bonatea speciosa is a morphologically variable species with a wide distribution on the eastern seaboard of South Africa and an extended flowering period. Populations from northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique show a remarkable conformity; these populations flower between June and July, have large flowers, lax inflorescence and low flower numbers (5-7). The rostellum side lobes are distinctive in being semi-erect (45°). Bonatea speciosa is distinct from B. antennifera and B. boltonii with respect to its longer dilated portion of the spur (> 15 mm) in combination with its wider lower petal lobes (> 1.5 mm). The lower petal lobe posture is porrect and weakly to strongly deflexed, with descending labellum side lobes. B. speciosa and B. antennifera are largely allopatric, being constituents of coastal dune forest and savannah vegetation types, respectively, but both overlap with B. boltonii. These three species also differ in their peak flowering period, with the majority of populations flowering from March to May (B. antennifera), June to December (B. speciosa) and December to March (B. boltonii).
S. Mozambique to S. Cape Prov.
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