AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis scaposa Frapp. ex Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 183 (1895).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Liparis verrucosa Frapp. ex Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 185 (1895).
Liparis verrucosa var. plana Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 185 (1895).
Liparis verrucosa var. undulata Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 185 (1895).
Description:
Very small to small terrestrial or epiphytic plant, very variable in size, 3 – 8 cm tall at most, few wiry roots, generally in small tufts on a short rhizome. Pseudobulbs completely or partly submerged in the soil or humus, broadly oval to subcylindrical-conical, single- or 2-leaved, very small, 3.1 – 10 × 2.3 – 8 mm, covered with 2 – 3 thin white sheaths, one larger than the others, up to 10 – 18 × 4 – 5 mm. Leaves emerging from the apex of the pseudobulb, mainly carried on the flowering bulb, lanceolate, acute, margins sometime slightly undulate or minutely dentate, with a prominent central vein, narrowed into a short petiole at the base, somewhat fleshy, pale to dark green, with a prominent central vein, overall 15 – 60 × 4 – 15 mm. Inflorescence erect, wiry, much longer than the leaf, up to 12 cm long, with 3 – 7 flowers towards the apex. Peduncle disproportionally long, generally well over half the length of the inflorescence, carrying an occasional peduncle scale 4 – 6 mm long, sometimes with one or two sterile bracts. Rachis densely racemose, up to 2 – 5 cm long. Floral bracts half the length of the ovary at most, lanceolate, acute, 2.1 – 3.9 × 0.5 – 1.3 mm. Flowers variable in size, very small to small, thin, green, yellowish-green to orange-pale yellow, the petals often a little paler, the lip with a darker green glossy central groove, the callus also darker green, apex of the column white, anther white, 5 – 10 × 4 – 8 mm. Pedicel and ovary conical, slender, 4.5 – 7.5 × 0.3 – 1.1 mm. Dorsal sepal erect, lanceolate, margins incurved, more or less cordate at the base, 4.8 – 7 × 1.2 – 2.1 mm. Lateral sepals curved beneath the lip, oblong-falcate, 3.5 – 5.1 × 1.8 – 2.5 mm. Petals deflexed to spreading, linear, subulate, 4.4 – 6.7 × 0.3 – 0.4 mm, slightly spathulate at the apex. Lip broadly oval to suborbicular, rounded or slightly emarginated-auriculate at the base, anterior margin more or less crenulate, a hollow triangular groove runs from the base towards the anterior margin which is glossy and shiny in living plants, with a comparatively large bilobed, slightly depressed callus at the base, overall 2.8 – 5.5 × 3.1 – 5.5 mm. Column broadened at the base, acutely curved at the apex with pronounced auriculate wings at the apex, 2.2 – 4 × 0.5 – 1 mm. Anther comparatively small and sitting at the very apex of the column, broadly obovate with a small rounded lobule at the anterior margin, 0.3 – 0.5 × 0.4 – 0.6 mm. Pollinia in two pairs, ovate – flattened on one side c. 0.3 × 0.2 mm. Seed capsule oblong or oblanceolate, ridged, 8 – 9 × 3.5 – 4 mm.
Etymology:
Liparis scaposa is thought to refer to the long rachis, L. verrucosa is said by Frappier to refer to the uneven groove in the centre of the lip. Liparis microcharis refers to the small dainty appearance of the plant.
Recognition:
This small, variable plant has a rounded-conical pseudobulb, lanceolate leaves, small flowers, a disproportionately long, few- flowered inflorescence, and flowers with a wide to fan-shaped lip, a prominent rounded bilobed notched callus on lip and a longitudinal groove. Its column is distinctly lobed at the apex, and its small anther has a small lobule at the anterior margin.
It is close to Liparis ambohimangana which has stolons, always a single leaf and generally a shorter inflorescence. Also similar is L. cespitosa in habit but L. scaposa is larger in plant size and has a larger flower, different lip-shape and a more prominent callus. Liparis parva has a somewhat similar lip but with a more elongate callus. The four species are compared in Table 1. It is also similar to L. nectarina but the plant and flowers of L. scaposa are much smaller, overlapping lateral sepals (divergent in L. nectarina), and a roundly lobular anther (vs sharply beaked). In its small size it is similar to the ambiguous L. xanthina which is a little larger in all aspects, the lip is wider and a different shape (broadly oval vs oblong). It is also similar to L. lutea but the prominent callus on the lip is distinct.
Habitat:
Terrestrial on embankments, forest remnants, on humus and moss-covered rock and forest floor. On granite and gneiss rocky outcrops to quartz-rich sandy banks in shade or semi-shade limestone, laterite. Epiphyte on branches and at the base of trees, in moss. In shade of Philippia, ericaceous vegetation. Altitude: 1000 – 2000 m.
Flowering time:
January to May.
Distribution:
Réunion
References:
Bulletin de la Société botanique de France. [v.56 (1909)]: Page 99; Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
Images:
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