AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Vanilla heterolopha Summerh., Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1938: 149 (1938).
Description:
Herba scandens, glaberrima; caules flexuosi, graciles, usque ad 70 cm. vel ultra longi, siccitate 1-2 mm. diametro, laxe foliati, e nodis radicantes. Folia lanceolata vel oblongo-lanceolata, longe acuminata, basi late cuneata vel subrotundata, breviter petiolata, 5-12 cm. longa, 1-3-2-7 cm. lata, 9-13-nervia; petioles gracilis, 0-5-1 cm. longus. Inflorescentiae simpliciter racemosae, axillares, 1-3 cm. longae, dense multiflorae ; bracteae = imbricatae, saepe reflexae vel patentes, ovatae vel triangulari-ovatae, usque ad 4 mm. longae. Flores rosei vel roseo-albidi; pedicelli cum ovariis 1-2 cm. longi. Sepalum intermedium oblongo-lanceolatum vel oblongo-oblanceolatum, subacutum vel obtusum, 17-22 mm. longum, circiter 5 mm. latum; sepala lateralia oblique vel curvatim elliptico-lanceolata vel elliptico-ovata, obtusa vel subacuta, 16-17 mm. longa, 7-5-8-5 mm. lata. Petala oblique lanceolata vel oblongo-lanceolata, subacuta, 16-20 mm. longa, 4-5-5:5 mm. lata. Labellum columnae per 7-8 mm. adnatum tubum ore apertum formans, distincte trilobatum, in toto circiter 13 mm. longum; lobus intermedius quadratus, fere rectangularis, apice truncates leviter retusus apiculo brevissimo latissimo interjecto, medio geniculatim recurvatus, 6-5-8-5 mm. longus, 5-5-7-5 mm. latus, lateribus irregulariter dentatis et undulatis; lobi laterales explanati triangulares, apice tantum liberi, obtusi vel rotundati; lobus intermedius antice cristis tribus intermedia humili interrupta vel verrucosa lateralibus antice humilibus integris laevibus in medio lobi intermedii crassis semicircularibus, postice et in labelli disco lamellis multis quadratis vel linearibus transversis deorsum sensimn decrescentibus instructus. Columna arcuatim incurvata, circiter 10 mm. longa, semiteres, apice leviter ampliata, basi in alas latissimas labelli lobis lateralibus adnatas dilatata; anthera reniformis, rotundata; rostellum breve, truncatum, latum.
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Habitat:
Note:
This very interesting species is almost indistinguishable from Vanilla africana Lindl. in vegetative and superficial floral characters. The lip is, however, totally different. Instead of the narrow pointed middle-lobe furnished in the centre with a few retrorse and fimbriate scales, characteristic of Vanilla africana, we have in V. heterolopha a broad rectangular middle-lobe sharply recurved like a knee in the middle. This and the upper part of the disc bears an assemblage of outgrowths and calli which in their diversity go far beyond those of any African species or indeed of any other species known to me. In the front are three parallel keels, the middle one lower and broken up into a series of knobs, the outer smooth in front but forming at the knee-bend of the lip a pair of swollen semicircular calli similar to those found in many species of Eulophia, for example, Eulophia cristata (Sw.) Steud. Behind this the crests cease but are replaced by a series of relatively narrow but transversely placed lamellae which become shorter and shorter towards the base of the lip, until they are represented merely by transverse raised lines.
Distribution:
Congo to Gabon