AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Calyptrochilum Kraenzl. in Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 22: 30 (1895).
Description:
Monopodial, epiphytic herbs with long woody stems. Leaves alternate, fleshy, twisted at the base to lie in one plane. Inflorescences short; flowers resupinate, white. Sepals and petals free, similar, spreading, the petals slightly shorter than the sepals. Lip 3-lobed, spurred, the spur inflated at the apex. Column short and stout with a small foot. Rostellum prominent; anther apiculate; pollinia 2, globose, joined to a long linear caudicle; viscidium 1, large, triangular, grooved at base to clasp the rostellum.
Notes:
Only two species have been described in this genus, which was established by the German botanist Fritz Kraenzlin in 1895. The name is derived from two Greek words kalyptro (a veil or covering) and cheilos (lip), presumably a reference to the way the lip sometimes appears to conceal the rest of the flower. Both species are epiphytes that form large clumps on forest trees and are sometimes conspicuous on isolated trees in grasslands. They are both widespread in the warmer parts of Africa, and Calyptrochilum christyanum, which is recorded from Kenya, is one of the most widespread of all African epiphytic orchids. It has smaller leaves and fewer flowers than Calyptrochilum emarginatum, which is restricted to the western side of the continent from Guinea south to Angola.
Distribution:
NE. Brazil, Trop. Africa
Cultivation:
These species grow well in cultivation provided the plants are kept in suitably warm and humid conditions. They can succeed in a pot but do better when mounted so that the stems can assume their normally pendent position. It is better to start with seedlings or small plants as large ones can be very difficult to get established. Whether large or small, the plants should be tied very firmly to a supporting log or piece of bark so that the new roots can gradually become attached without being damaged.

A key to the genus Calyptrochilum Kraenzl.
Bibliography and References:

Arends JC, Van der Laan FM. 1986 Cytotaxonomy of the Vandeae. Lindleyana. 1. 33-41; Carlsward BS, Stern WL, Bytebier B. 2006 Comparative vegetative anatomy and systematics of the angraecoids (Vandeae, Orchidaceae) with an emphasis on the leafless habit. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 151. 165-218; Gasson P, Cribb PJ. 1986 the leaf anatomy of Ossiculum aurantiacum Cribb & van der Laan (Orchidaceae: Vandoideae). Kew Bull. 41. 827-32; Pottinger M. 1982 African orchids: Calyptrochilum, chameangis and Cyrtorchis. Orchid Rev., 90. (1064): 194-196 (1982)