AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Paralophia epiphytica (P.J.Cribb, Du Puy & Bosser) P.J.Cribb, Bot. Mag. 22: 50 (2005).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Eulophia epiphytica P.J.Cribb, Du Puy & Bosser, Adansonia, III, 24: 170 (2002).
Description:
Large epiphytic herb with cylindrical stems, pendent or trailing at first then curving upwards, up to 1.5m long, 7–10 mm in diameter, leafy in the upper part and partly covered by acute papery sheaths up to 18–30 mm long in lower half. Leaves 28–32, thin, flexible, linear, acute, 8–26 cm long, 8–12 mm wide, articulated with 1.5–3 cm long whitish sheaths at the base. Inflorescences several per stem, lateral, 2–14-flowered, arcuate to pendent; peduncle 30–70 mm long, almost covered by short acute sheathing sterile bracts; rachis 10–40 mm long; bracts lanceolate, acute, 3–8mm long. Flowers spreading, distinctively fragrant, c. 30–35 mm broad, with green or yellowish green sepals and petals becoming more yellow with age; lip white turning pale yellow with age, marked on the base of the midlobe with purple veins, the side lobes green with dark purple veins; pedicel and ovary up to 23 mm long, 3–6 mm in diameter. Dorsal sepal elliptic, acute, 22–24 mm long, 7–8mm wide. Lateral sepals spreading, oblong-elliptic, acute, 25–27 mm long, 7–8mm wide. Petals slightly obliquely elliptic, acute, apically slightly recurved, 18–2.3 mm long, 8–9 mm wide. Lip 3-lobed, shortly spurred at the base, 18–20 mm long, 16–18 mm wide; side lobes erect, obliquely oblong, rounded and slightly recurved in front; midlobe transversely oblong, slightly emarginate, slightly recurved in front, 8 mm long, 14mm wide; callus of three to five ridges on the disc, coalescing towards the base, two or four outer keels erose in front, with outer veins of midlobe also erose-papillose; spur shortly conical-cylindrical, 2 mm long. Column lightly sinuous, 8.5–9 mm long, foot 2mm long; anther cap with a distinct terminal knob; pollinia 2, deeply porose; stipe short, fleshy; viscidium semilunate.
Cultivation:
It is important to allow the plant’s extensive root system to develop unhindered and expose it to gentle atmospheric moisture and light. Plants can be grown in large pots or baskets filled with an open orchid compost based on bark and sphagnum moss, enough space should be allowed to accommodate the creeping rhizome and rampant growths. During the growing season plants need to be watered regularly by dunking the whole plant in rainwater in the morning, it is then left to dry out for a few days. Once growths have been completed and plants do not show active green growing tips on the roots, they should be watered very little, only a light misting of the roots to stop desiccation of the long pseudobulbs should be necessary. During this dry period many of the leaves will drop off the older pseudobulbs. Paralophia epiphytica needs to be exposed to as much light as possible; a bright spot close to the apex of a warm greenhouse is ideal. Night-time temperatures should not be allowed to drop below 15 C. When daytime temperatures rise above 25 C ample ventilation should be given to maintain a temperature below 35 C. Plants are not easily propagated vegetatively but the species has been found to be relatively easily propagated from seed.
Habitat:
Paralophia epiphytica is an epiphyte on Elaeis guineensis, Raphia farinifera and probably also Dypsis palm trees, climbing amongst leaf bases on the trunks with the basal roots deeply embedded in the soft sheath tissue of the host, where it grows at low altitude from sea level to c. 600m, it flowers from October to January.
Notes:
Eulophia epiphytica is a very distinctive orchid. The only other epiphytic species of Eulophia is the Madagascan E. palmicola H. Perrier but that species has three- or four-leaved pseubobulbous stems on a short rhizome, long erect inflorescences as long as the leaves and flowers with apiculate sepals and petals, a lip with a 2-ridged callus at the base, a shortly apiculate midlobe and a 4 mm long spur. The type of Eulophia palmicola (Perrier de la Båthie 18893, P!) was collected in southeast Madagascar between Manambovo Riv. and Menarandra Riv., growing on the palm Ravenea xerophila Jum.
Distribution:
SC. & SE. Madagascar
References:
Dransfield J. & Beentje H. 1995. — The Palms of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the International Palm Society; Du Puy D., Cribb P.J., Bosser J., Hermans J. & HERMANS C. 1999. — The Orchids of Madagascar. Checklist and Annotated Bibliography. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Hilton-Taylor C. (compiler) 2000. — 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland Switzerland and Cambridge, England; Phillip J. CRIBB An unusual new epiphytic species of Eulophia (Orchidaceae) from southeastern Madagascar, ADANSONIA, sér. 3 - 2002 - 24 (2) : 169-172
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Photograph© Lourens
Grobler. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Lourens
Grobler. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Lourens
Grobler. Image used
with kind permission.