AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Stenoglottis fimbriata Lindl., Companion Bot. Mag. 2: 210 (1837).
Description:

Erect, terrestrial herb, 10-40 cm high, with elongate, fleshy, fasciculate tuberous roots radiating from the base of the plant. Leaves 6-10, forming a basal rosette, spreading, spotted with purplish brown, oblong or lanceolate, 2.5-1 5 cm long, 0.5-1.6 cm wide, attenuate at the base, the apex acute, margins strikingly undulate. Inflorescence a subsecund raceme, up to 40 cm long but usually shorter, with 5-30 (-50) flowers. Sheaths and bracts spotted, narrowly ovate-oblong or lanceolate, acuminate, gradually decreasing in size along the peduncle, bracts always shorter than the ovaries. Flowers rosy lilac, with spots on the lip and usually also on the sepals and petals, all the parts, including the ovary minutely papillose on the surface and margins. Sepals spreading, ovate, 3-8 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, obtuse, entire. Petals folded together so that they obscure the column, oblong-ovate, 3-6 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, entire or slightly fimbriate around the apical margin. Lip spreading, obovate-oblong in outline, 6-15 mm long, 3-lobed for half its length, the mid-lobe longer and narrower than the side-lobes, lobes acute. Column very small, short, less than 1 mm tall, obtuse. Pollinia large, erect, enclosed in a slit on the face of the column; caudicles short; viscidia orbicular. Staminodes small, falcate, obtuse, smooth, adnate to the sides of the column. Stigmas elongated, falcate, curving forwards and outwards in front of the staminodes. Capsule 1.5-2 cm long, strongly 6-ribbed, splitting along several ribs.
Habitat:

In forests and patches of bush surrounding rocks, from the coast up to 1 800 m inland. It can be found growing on rocks, earth banks and epiphytically on moss-covered tree trunks.
Cultivation:

Stenoglottis fimbriata can be grown in a glasshouse, shade house or an environment with intermediate temperatures ranging from 20-35°C in summer and should not drop below 6°C in winter. It requires moderate shade, 50-70% and good air movement. Poor ventilation causes black blotching on leaves resulting in die-back.

After the flowering season (January -April), the leaves start to yellow and die back. Dead leaves are removed and flowering stems can be pruned. The plant has completed its summer growing season and will experience a period of dormancy during winter. This is an ideal time to repot the plant into a fresh new medium. The plant requires a free-draining medium consisting of 50 % river sand, 40% leaf mulch and 10% vermiculite. Remove the root ball from the pot, the dead leaves and much of the old potting medium. The root ball can be divided into smaller clumps. Put a layer of coarse stone chips to encourage good drainage. Fill the pot ¾ with fresh potting medium and arrange the tuberous roots to allow the growing point to be planted below the surface of the medium.

It is not necessary to repot every year. The plant can be left undisturbed for 2 seasons before repotting into a bigger pot or replacing old potting mix.

During this period of dormancy watering is withheld to allow the medium to dry. It is vital to watch that the medium does not dehydrate completely. To prevent this, the pot is drenched every 2-3 weeks and allowed to dry.

When new rosettes of leaves emerge in late winter and early spring, water lightly until weather warms. The plant should be kept moist during the growing season (spring to autumn). Feed the plant with a seaweed-based fertilizer, an organic plant food, every two weeks during spring. During summer watering can be increased to twice a week.
Distribution:

S. Africa

Images:
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Botanical Drawing / Herbarium
stenoglottis fimbriata
Photograph copyright Swiss Orchid Foundation at the Herbarium Jany Renz Image used with kind permission.