Satyrium Sw., Kongl. Vetensk. Acad. Nya Handl. 21: 214 (1800), nom. cons.
Diplectrum Pers., Syn. Pl. 2: 508 (1807).
Hipporkis Thouars, Nouv. Bull. Sci. Soc. Philom. Paris 19: 317 (1809).
Aviceps Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 345 (1838).
Satyridium Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 345 (1838).
Terrestrial species, growing each year from ovoid tubers, occasionally increasing vegetatively by underground runners. In some species, the foliage leaves are borne on a separate sterile shoot, the flowering stern having only sheathing leaves, while in others, the foliage leaves arise on the flowering stem. There may be either one or two basal leaves tightly appressed to the ground, or several leaves arranged up the stem. Inflorescence usually a dense or fairly dense raceme, several- to rnany-flowered, often with large bracts, usually reflexed at flowering time. Flowers never very large but often extremely showy, white, green, yellow, orange, pink, red, or purple. Sepals and petals small, rather similar, usually joined at the base for part of their length. Lip the most noticeable part of the flower, forming a hood; column inside hp, with the stigma at the top, the anther loculi hanging below it, with the trilobed rostellum between them. Pollinia two, joined by caudicles to two viscidia.
Trop. & S. Africa, W. Indian Ocean, Indian Subcontinent to SC. China
The genus Satyrium was established in 1800 by the Swedish botanist Olof Swartz (1760—1818). The name is derived from the word satyr; in Greek mythology, satyrs were woodland demigods, half man and half goat, lustful companions of Bacchus. The name may refer to the twin, goatlike horns borne on the lip of species of Satyrium. Bechtel et al. (1992) suggested that in the Greek herbals of Dioscorides and Pliny, the name satyrion referred to the European rnan orchid, Aceras anthopophorum, the tubers of which were believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Finally, A. V. Hall (1982) suggested that the name refers to the goatlike smell of the European lizard orchid, Himantoglossum hircinum, which was originally named by Linnaeus as Satyrium hircinum. Readers can take their choice.
The genus was revised in 1901 by both Rudolf Schlechter and Fritz Kränzlin. The most recent revision was by A. V. Hall in 1982, but unfortunately this covers only the southern African species. There are about 100 species, more than 30 of them South African and many in tropical Africa. Five species are from Madagascar and two from Asia. The most distinctive feature is the lip, which is held at the top of the flower and bears twin spurs, varying from long and slender to short and saccate, even, in one tropical African species, completely absent. The only other orchid genus to have twin spurs home on the lip is the South African Satyridium, which contains only one species, S. rostratum Lindley, endemic to the Western Cape.
Satyrium is a morphologically anomalous genus. Although clearly a member of the terrestrial orchid subfamily Orchidoideae, its phylogenetic relationships within the subfamily are uncertain.Morphologically it has always been placed in tribe Diseae, albeit associated with different subtribes, but recent molecular studies suggest a closer relationship to Orchideae. The infrageneric classification of Satyrium is equally problematic, and several different classifications are available.
The only infrageneric classification based on a phylogenetic analysis of morphological characters resulted in recognition of the three subgenera
Satyrium subgen. Brachysaccium Schltr.: 185 (1901).
Slender plants with lanceolate, cauline leaves in the lower stern portion. Bracts most commonly spreading, rarely erect or reflexed, occasionally much longer than the flowers. Lip galeate with broad entrance, apical flap normally short or absent, spurs mostly saccate or missing, rarely elongate-fihiform; viscidia 2; stigma flap-like; rostellum 3-lobed, usually with spreading arms, rarely with short and parallel arms, viscidia apical.
Satyrium subgen. Bifidum Kurzweil & H.P. Linder in Beitr. Biol. Pfl.
Slender to stout plants with cauline or basal leaves which are often adpressed to the ground. Bracts most commonly deflexed. Lip galeate with a broad entrance, apical flap short or elongate; spurs slender-filiform and mostly longer than the ovary; stigma flap-like; rostellum 3-lobed with short or long parallel arms, viscidia 2, usually terminal.
Satyrium subgen. Satyrium
Slender to stout terrestrial herbs; leaves cauline, or basal and then adpressed to the ground. Bracts most commonly deflexed, rarely spreading or erect, rarely dry and membranous. Petals entire, sometimes with fimbriate margins; lip deeply or shallowly galeate, with broad or very narrow entrance, apical flap short or elongate, spurs mostly slender-filiform and longer than the ovary; viscidia 2, subterminal or lateral, in S. rhynchanthum solitary and terminal; stigma flap-like or in S. rhynchanthum pad-hike; rostellum weakly 3-lobed or unlobed, often with straight or recurved terminal lobe (= appendix).
Satyrium species not on location
Species of Satyrium have the reputation of being difficult in cultivation. Few species are grown outside South Africa, except for the Asiatic S. nepalense, which does well in an alpine house. Several South African growers have developed the technique for growing and propagating
Satyrium, and it is hoped that enthusiasts in the rest of the world will be able to follow suit. South African growers are often able to use of the original soil when growing species of Satyrium, and indeed other terrestrial orchids, which should supply the associated fungi that must be beneficial to growth. For orchid growers without access to the original soil, a standard, free-draining terrestrial compost should be used, in a shallow pot. As with all species of deciduous terrestrial orchids, it is essential to follow the plant's natural rhythm. Water can be applied freely while the plant is in growth, but one must be careful that water does not collect in the cups formed by the developing leaves as this is liable to cause rot, particularly if it has not dried off by nightfall. The pot should be allowed to dry out before watering again. A cool, dry rest is essential after the year's growth has died back.
Species that come from the winter rainfall area of South Africa are dormant during the hot, dry summer months. In autumn, the tubers start to sprout and careful watering can begin. The leaves and inflorescences develop through the winter, and the plants flower in spring. While the leaves are developing, so is the new tuber; after flowering, the old tuber withers away. It is not necessary to repot every year; instead, every other year should be enough. Repotting should be done in early autumn, just before growth starts.
Species that grow in summer rainfall areas of South and tropical Africa should be kept cooler and drier in winter than those that come from the winter rainfall area. New growth starts in spring (instead of autumn), and the plants flower in summer. Even when a species grows in an area of relatively high rainfall, drainage must be good.
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