AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Stenoglottis longifolia Hook.f., Bot. Mag. 117: t. 7186 (1891).
Description:
A small terrestrial, lithophytic or epiphytic plant.
Leaves:
3.5-10.0 in. (9-25 cm) long by 0.4-1.6 in. (1.0-4.0 cm) wide. Numerous leaves form in a dense basal rosette. They are oblanceolate or narrowly oblong, sharply pointed and recurved at the apex, have undulate margins, and are light green in color.
Inflorescence:
Usually 9-20 in. (22-50 cm) long, but occasionally growing as tall as 39 in. (100 cm). The erect flower spikes rise from the center of the rosette of leaves and is covered with linear-lanceolate sheaths toward the base. Flowers are carried in a dense, many-flowered raceme toward the apex of the spike, opening in succession from the base toward the tip over a period of time.
Flowers:
Many per inflorescence. The flowers range from light purple to pale or dark lilac-pink, and are spotted with dark purple on the lip. Occasionally, a white-flowered clone if found. The sepals are oblong to broadly egg-shaped, somewhat bluntly pointed, and 0.3 in. (0.8 cm) long. The egg-shaped, sharply pointed petals are 0.2 in. (0.4-0.6 cm) long, are held in forward-pointing positions, and may sometimes be finely toothed at the apex. The lip is 0.5-0.6 in (1.2-1.6 cm) long and is 5-lobed about two-thirds of the way from the base. The lobes are sharply pointed with the one in the middle longer than those on either side, and all lobes usually are fringed. The column is short and broad.
Habitat:
The largest plants in the genus Stenoglottis are those of S. longifolia, and they also have the tallest inflorescences and the greatest number of flowers; they make very good cool glasshouse plants. The flowers open gradually along the raceme, each one lasting for a few weeks, and because there are so many the whole plant may be in flower for as long as three months. It is easy to grow, provided a short dry rest is given after flowering. The old leaves must be removed as they turn brown and thin so that the newly developing shoots are not suffocated. Within a few years massive clumps of plants will be produced; if desired they can be divided easily when repotting takes place. The smaller plants in one of these clumps always bear smaller inflorescences with fewer flowers, and the large size which some specimens attain is clearly associated with age.
Notes:
Has been reported from rocky areas near Tsaneen in the northern Transvaal by several South African orchid enthusiasts. In Natal, at least, it appears to be associated with outcrops of rock in the Table Mountain Sandstone series, but is not always a rock dweller. The best plants are found in deep sheets of humus and soil overlying rocks, and on mossy banks.
Cultural information:
Read more of Cultivation of Stenoglottis longifolia Hook.f.
Distribution:
SE. Cape Prov. to KwaZulu-Natal
References:
Bot. Mag. (1891) t. 7186 Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. Hamilton, R. 1988. When does it flower? 2nd ed. Robert M. Hamilton, 9211 Beckwith Road, Richmond, B. C., Canada V6X 1V7. Hawkes, A. (1965) 1987. Encyclopaedia of cultivated orchids. Faber and Faber, London. la Croix, I. and E. la Croix. 1997. African orchids in the wild and in cultivation. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Photos/drawings:
N/A. Bechtel, H., P. Cribb, and E. Launert. 1980. Manual of cultivated orchid species. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. (Color photo) la Croix, I. and E. la Croix. 1997. African orchids in the wild and in cultivation. Timber Press, Portland, OR. (Color photo):
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

In culture 
stenoglottis longifolia 
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.