AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Liparis nectarina Frapp. ex Cordem., Fl. Réunion: 184 (1895).
Description:
Very small to small epiphytic or terrestrial plant 4.5 – 10 cm high, on a very short rhizome, roots wiry, slightly villous, c. 1 mm diam. Pseudobulbs ovoid to elliptic 15 – 20 × 7 – 10 mm, covered by 3 – 4 whitish brownish amplectant, scarious sheaths, with 2 – 3 leaves, the third smaller and sheath-like number of leaves, the older pseudobulbs without leaves. Leaves erectly spreading, elliptic-lanceolate, in living plants corrugate into three distinct veins, in herbarium material several-veined, overall 3.2 – 7.5 × 1 – 1.9 cm, acuminate, with a short 5 – 12 mm petiole, somewhat leathery, pale green. Inflorescence erect, relatively thick for the genus, corrugate up to 12 cm long but generally shorter, c. 2 mm in diam., with 5 – 7 flowers. Peduncle about 2/3 of the inflorescence, with 1 – 2 elongate peduncle sheaths 8 – 15 × 3 – 5 mm. Rachis densely racemose becoming more spreading as the flowers open. Floral bracts lanceolate, acuminate, 6 – 8.5 × 1.2 – 1.8. Flowers parallel with the rachis, small to medium in size, overall c. 11 × 7 mm, segments pale green becoming yellow and then orange with age, anther paler, the lip darker green with the central ridge and callus almost olive-green. Pedicel and ovary elongate, twisted, sharply ridged, 7.1 – 8 × 1.3 – 1.8 mm. Dorsal sepal erect, narrowly lanceolate, acuminate, the margins infolded, 7.8 – 8.1 × 1.2 – 1.8 mm. Lateral sepals ovate, obtuse, folded beneath the lip, spreading and only overlapping near the base 5.6 – 5.8 × 2.6 – 3.8 mm. Petals descending, more or less curved, linear, margins infolded, 8.2 – 9 × 0.6 – 0.9 mm. Lip distinctly auriculate at base, then very strongly curved and expanded into an obcordate blade, the margins curved, the anterior margin undulate, broadly emarginated, a bilobed rounded callus at the base becoming a longitudinal swollen ridge on the disc, covered by small sticky droplets in living plants, overall 5.5 – 6.1 × 5.3 – 6.4 mm. Column curved and roundly bilobed at the apex, 3.8 – 4 × 1.4 – 1.5 mm. Anther oval with a distinct acute beak at the anterior margin, 0.9 – 1 × 0.9 – 1 mm. Pollinia (2) ovoid c. 0.5 × 0.4 mm. Seed capsule obovate, erect, c. 6 × 5 mm.
Etymology:
Frappier, in his description, refers to the nectar-like droplets on the disk of the lip. A viscous substance on the lip is not unique to this species and can be found in others, such as Liparis listeroides, but the distinct droplets are unusual.
Recognition:
Liparis nectarina is a small plant with an ovoid pseudobulb covered by sheaths, two elliptic-lanceolate corrugate leathery leaves with three distinct recessed veins, an inflorescence with one or two elongate sheaths, few-flowered towards the tip, and small to medium-sized flowers, with a lip strongly auriculate at the base, with an emarginate apex, undulate, with a rounded bilobed callus and swollen longitudinal disk, nectar-like droplets (in living plants) on the surface, and a sharply beaked anther.
Liparis nectarina is closest to L. flavescens in habit and lip shape but the leaves of L. nectarina are leathery (vs membranous), strongly three-veined (vs many-veined), the lip margin is clearly emarginate (vs entire) and more deeply undulate. It is also similar to L. scaposa but the flowers of L. nectarina are at least a third larger, it has two leaves (vs one) and the anther is sharply beaked (vs roundly lobular). The lateral sepals overlap in both of the above species whilst they are divergent in L. nectarina, the distinct viscous droplets on the lip also seem to be particular to this species.
Habitat:
Epiphyte or terrestrial in shaded forest; 800 – 2000 m.
Flowering time:
March to April.
Distribution:
Endemic to Réunion
References:
Flore de l'ile de la Reunion 1895; Malaxideae (Orchidaceae) in Madagascar, the Mascarenes, Seychelles and Comoro Islands Kew Bulletin volume 75, Article number: 1 (2020)
Images:
Click on each image to see a larger version.

Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ Habitat/In situ
liparis nectarina in situ liparis nectarina liparis nectarina. close up 01 liparis nectarina. close up. side liparis nectarina. close up
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.
Photograph© Rogier
van Vugt. Image used
with kind permission.