AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis punctilabris Frapp. ex Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 184 (1895).
Description:
Very small epiphytic or terrestrial plant 5 – 7 cm high, on a short rhizome, roots wiry, woolly, c. 3 mm diam. Pseudobulbs ovoid to conical 12 – 15 × 9 – 10 mm, the base covered by membranous sheaths without strong veins, carrying 2 – 3 erectly-spreading leaves. Leaves ovate to lanceolate, acute, narrowed into a short petiole at the base, blade corrugate, 3.8 – 6 × 1.5 – 2.1 cm, pale green. Inflorescence erect, up to 95 mm, corrugate, with up to 13 flowers. Peduncle with 2 – 3 small narrowly lanceolate bracts. Rachis loosely racemose, in the upper third of the inflorescence. Floral bracts narrowly lanceolate 3.5 – 5.5 mm, about 1/3 the length of the ovary, minutely erose at the base. Flowers small, erectly spreading, av. 9 × 7 mm, floral segments overall pale and translucent, with minute dark spots within the structure, especially the lip (not always obvious in dried specimens). Pedicellate ovary green, perianth yellowish green, becoming yellow-orange with age, lip and column green, anther white-brown. Pedicel and ovary cylindrical corrugate, 8 – 13 × 0.7 – 0.8 mm. Dorsal sepal erect, linear-ligulate, more or less widened at the base, margins recurved, 6.8 – 7 × 1.1 – 2 mm. Lateral sepals broadly oblong-falcate, obtuse, curved below the lip and overlapping, 4.7 – 5.2 × 2.3 – 2.8 mm. Petals linear, spreading, margins incurved, 6.3 – 6.5 × 0.4 – 0.6 mm. Lip transversally elliptic to reniform, with distinct short wings at the base then abruptly broadened into the blade which is slightly undulate at the anterior margin and minutely mucronate at the apex, two distinct calli (appearing as an angular cushion in living material) at the base ending in longitudinal rounded ridges along the central vein, 3.2 – 3.5 × 5 – 5.1 mm. Column slightly curved, hunchbacked, broadened in the upper half with elongate rounded wings, 2.1 – 2.3 × 0.8 – 0.9 mm. Anther ovoid, with a short rounded lobe at the anterior margin. Pollen 2, ovate c. 0.5 – 0.3 mm. Seed capsule obovate, erect c. 10 × 5 mm.
Etymology:
Referring to the punctate lip (mainly visible in living flowers).
Recognition:
This is a very small plant, with ovoid-conical pseudobulbs, ovate, corrugate leaves, and small flowers with translucent and punctate segments, a transversally elliptic to reniform lip wider than long (Frappier, in his key, referred to the lip being orbicular but this may have been a misinterpretation especially as he also described it as very obtuse, all other characteristics correspond with his description), shortly auriculate at the base, mucronate at the tip, and with an angular bilobed callus at the base, a short column and thickened at the apex, wings long and indistinct, and an anther with a small lobule in front.
The plant has some similarities with Liparis bathiei, L. flavescens and L. lutea but their inflorescences are denser, their lip ovate (vs transversally elliptic), their column wings more angular and their anther with a more acute beak.
Habitat:
Very moist shaded forest of the interior of the island. Altitude: 1000 – 1800 m.
Flowering time:
January to April.
Distribution:
Endemic to Réunion
References:
Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
Images:
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