AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Microcoelia sanfordii L.Jonss., Symb. Bot. Upsal. 23: 129 (1981).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Encheiridion sanfordii (L.Jonss.) Senghas, Schlechter Orchideen 1(16-18): 1066 (1986).
Description:
Epiphytic plant. Stem short, up to 5 mm long, 1-2 mm in diameter. Scale-leaves acute to acuminate, with c. 7 nerves, up to c. 3 mm long. Roots relatively few, slender to ± stout, variously spreading, ± twisted and undulating, few branched, ± attached to the substrate, ± flattened, smooth, up to c. 70 cm long, (1.5-) 2-3 (-5) mm in widest diameter. Inflorescence(s) ± erect to pendulous, up to 7 cm long, one at the time (might well be more?), usually ± dense, with up to 10 flowers; peduncle short, up to 15 mm long; rachis straight or indistinctly flexuose, ± terete; bracts sheathing, acute, 1-nerved, 1.0-2.3 mm long. Pedicel short, ± straight to distinctly twisted, up to c. 4 mm long; ovary slightly curved, faintly furrowed, up to c. 1.5 mm long, 0.5-0.7 mm in diameter. Flowers ± horizontal, up to c. 11 mm long including ovary and pedicel, whitish, lateral sepals white with a central greenish band, lip white with a greenish ± triangular spot in the centre, spur apically orange-beige as the anther. Glandular hairs sparse, on the pedicel, ovary and at the base of the perianth. Dorsal sepal distinctly hoodshaped, ± elliptic, acute, apex beak-shaped, 3-nerved, 3.2-5.8 x 1.6-2.0 mm. Lateral sepals distinctly curved, ± ovate, acute, subapiculate, 3-nerved, 3.2-5.7 x 1.0-2.0 mm. Petlas distinctly curved, ± obovate, obtuse to subacute, 1-nerved, occasionally with few branches, 2.5-4.7 x 1.0-2.0 mm. Labellum 3-lobed; mid-lobe distinctly spathulate, in outline ± cordate when outspread or ± crescent-shaped when folded, margin uneven, subacute, 5-nerved, mid-nerve area ± thickened; side-lobes erect, oblong, the inner sides distinctly thickened, the thickenings in plane with the lobes or slightly protruding, wedge-shaped, spur entrance ± narrowed by an U-shaped ridge-like extension from the thickenings, 2.3-4.5 x 1.9-4.7 mm, mid-lobe alone up to 3 mm long; spur long, ± straight in early anthesis, at late anthesis ± incurved apically, tapering to a distinct, ± discoidal apical inflation, 4.4—7.2 mm long. Column short, distinctly recurved, ± truncate, dorsally slightly prolonged into a ± acute beak, 1.3-1.9 mm long, 1.3-1.8 mm high; androclinium shallowly excavated, ± horizontally orientated; rostellum lobes very long, acute, inserted just below androclinium, distinctly bifid at the outermost 1/5 of the total length, variously connate to the base, apically ± pappilose, ± porrect in anthesis, in early anthesis pointing into spur mouth, c. 4.6-5.6 mm long, at the base each lobe c. 0.2 mm wide. Anther hemispherical in side view, distinctly bival-vate dorsally, in back view heart-shaped, tapering to a straight, short, ± acute or subapiculate apex with a ± erose margin, c. 2.5-3.2 x 1.0-2.7 mm. Pollinia asymmetric, in side view ± orbicular to obovate, up to c. 1.2 x 1.0 mm, in median section ± obovate to elliptic, c. 0.8 mm thick. Stipes long, ligulate, ± straight; apical parts free with a distinct conical ± massive head-like apex, channelled; basal part connate with the viscidium to its apex, indistinctly concave, c. 4.8 mm long (total length up to 6 mm); viscidium ensiform, base truncate, c. 2.1 x 0.5 mm. Capsule long, ± narrowly ellipsoid, slightly curved, c. 33 xc. 4 mm,pedicel short, ± straight, c. 4 mm long (one capsule seen). Seeds ± cylindrical, bottle-shaped to fusiform, testa cells narrowly elongate (in a dry state), with club-shaped and more sparsely with hook-shaped processes; anticlinal walls sulcate with few to many finer striations, terminal ends slightly protruding, (270-)330-440-460) x 50-70 µm (25 dry seeds measured).
Etymology:
It was named in honour of the American botanist, William Sanford, who made many contributions to the study of orchids and their ecology in Nigeria and Cameroon.
Habitat:
Epiphyte, mainly on the tips of branches, in riverine forest; 800-1000 m.
Flowering period:
Recorded from the beginning of the early rainy season.
Cultivation:
As given for the genus.
Distribution:
E. Cameroon
References:
WCSP (2017). 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. 03.03-2017; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
Images:
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