Liparis gracilipes Schltr., Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 33: 138 (1924).
Medium to large slender plant, erect terrestrial, lithophyte or epiphyte, up to 22 cm tall growing in dense clumps, the older pseudobulbs retaining their leaves, rhizome woody, short c. 8 mm diam., roots slender, filiform, more or less pilose. Pseudobulbs very slender av. 3 mm diam., up to 15 cm long, woody, in 3 – 5 sections each carrying a 10 – 12 mm acute sheaths. Leaves 2 – 3 (rarely 4), erectly spreading, thin, elliptic to lanceolate elliptic, acuminate, base rounded with a petiole 6 – 15 mm long, margins slightly undulate, with 5 strong veins, 7 – 10 cm long, 1.7 – 5 cm wide. Inflorescence slender, erect, up to 15 cm long, laxly 5 – 12-flowered. Peduncle up to 8 cm, slender with 2 – 3 lanceolate, acuminate erectly spreading sheaths up to 8 mm long, sometimes with a larger leaf-like bract. Rachis up to 7.5 cm long but normally shorter. Floral bracts lanceolate acuminate but wider than the peduncle sheaths, 4 – 9 × 2 – 3.5 mm. Flowers erectly spreading, greenish to greenish-white, becoming yellow on ageing, medium size, up to 11 × 7 mm. Pedicel and ovary slightly winged, up to 11 × 1.2 mm. Dorsal sepal somewhat reflexed, narrowly lanceolate to ligulate-lanceolate, obtuse, 8 – 15 × 2 – 3.1 mm. Lateral sepals oval-obtuse 7.5 – 11 × 4.1 – 5 mm. Petals deflexed, narrowly linear, 8 – 12 × 0.7 – 1.3 mm. Lip curved, suborbicular, tip slightly indented, margins sub-crenulate, two strong curved veins running parallel with the margins, at the base with a distinct wedge-shaped, erect, tridentate callus, 6.5 – 10.1 × 6.8 – 10 mm. Column hardly curved at the tip, with very small thin triangular wings near the apex, 4.2 – 4.8 × 1 mm. Anther rounded without a beak c. 0.8 × 0.9 mm. Pollinia oval 0.3 – 0.5 mm diam.
Referring to the long slender pseudobulbs.
It is likely that this species has been confused with other vegetatively similar species with a long stem but the medium-sized flowers with a distinct rounded lip with wavy edges, strong side veins and the dentate callus are characteristic.
In plant habit the species is similar to Liparis chantaliae (described above) but the leaves are much thicker in texture and elliptic vs broadly oval, the lip suborbicular vs broadly oval-lanceolate and the callus tridentate vs bi-lamellar, the flowers are also much smaller. It equally has similarities with L. longicaulis with its elongate stem but differs in that the stem is very thin and has two to rarely three leaves with short wavy margins. The flowers are distinct by the wide rounded lip with at the base an erect three pointed wedge-shaped callus. The species is also similar to L. caulescens from Réunion, but the leaves are more cordate, there are fewer flowers a quarter smaller and the lip is suborbicular vs broadly obovate with a tridentate vs bidentate callus.
Moss forest, river margins and shaded and humid rocks. Altitude: 800 – 1800 m.
Flowering in January to May.
The species was described by Schlechter in Germany from herbarium material sent to him by Perrier and this was then returned to the Paris herbarium, as indicated on the herbarium label. In his description, Schlechter cited Perrier 15747 as the type, there are two sheets of this number and P00094979 is designated here as the lectotype and P00094980 is an isolectotype; the first specimen is more representative of the species and has more open flowers. Until recently known from the type only.
As given for the genus, cool growing lithophyte or terrestrial.
N. Madagascar. Endemic.
Flora of Madagascar: vascular plants: 49th family, Orchids / by H. Perrier de La Bathie; published under the auspices of the government of Madagascar and under the direction of H. Humbert; English revision and translation by Steven D. Beckman; Orchids of Madagascar Du Puy, Hermans, Bosser and Cribb 2007; A Field Guide to the Orchids of Madagascar Hermans and Cribb 2009; Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
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