Bonatea Willd. Sp. Pl. 4: 43 (1805).
Sepals unequal, free; dorsal erect, lateral oblique, reflexed. Petals deeply bipartite; posterior lobe erect, adpressed to the margin of the dorsal sepal; anterior lobe descending and simulating a lobe of the lip. Lip continuous with the column, produced at the base into a more or less elongated spur; limb spreading, base produced into a narrow claw, adnate to the base of the lateral sepals, the anterior lobe of the petals, and the stigmatic processes, tripartite above with narrow lobes. Column short, footless; anther-bed erect, as long as the anther. Anther-cells somewhat diverging; apex inferior, prolonged in front into channels, confluent with the side lobes of the rostellum; pollinia granular, with elongate curved caudicles and exserted naked glands; staminodes lateral, small, auriculate. Stigma bipartite, extended in front into a pair of elongate subclavate processes; rostellum trilobed; middle lobe cucullate, apiculate; side lobes linear, elongate. Capsule oblong. Terrestrial herbs, with the habit of a large Habenaria; flowers rather large, in more or less elongated racemes; bracts ovate.
Type species: Bonatea speciosa (L.f.) Willd.
The genus Bonatea was created by C. L. Willdenow in 1805 and named in honor of Guiseppe Antonio Bonato (1753-1836), professor of botany at the University of Padua in ltaly. It is closely related to Habenaria, differing mainly in having the basal parts of the lower petal lobes, the lip and the stigmatic arms joined, and in having a tooth in the mouth of thee spur. The genus contains about 20 species in tropical and South Africa, with one species extending into Yemen. They do not have brightly colored flowers, but they are striking plants nonetheless. Several species are grown in South Africa, not so many elsewhere, but they deserve to be better known.
Trop. & S. Africa, Arabian Pen.
Most species of Bonatea tend to grow in rather hot, dry areas, and it is vitally important to avoid over-watering. They can be grown in a free-draining mix of equal parts of fibrous peat, loam, coarse sand, and fine bark, with plenty of drainage material at the bottom of the pot. The stem and leaves are prone to rot, especially when the year's growth is just developing, when the leaves are funnel-shaped and water can easily lodge there. If possible, try to avoid getting water on the leaves at all. Plants die back after flowering and then should be kept almost dry with only an occasional watering; they should not be kept too dry, as then the tubers shrivel. If plants are grown in clay pots, the pots can be plunged in sand, like alpines, and the sand can be watered from time to time. Even when the plant is in full growth, the pot should be allowed to dry out between watering. Unlike most orchids, species of Bonatea do not appreciate too humid an atmosphere-keep them well away from a humidifier or nebulizer. Most will grow in intermediate temperatures, with light shade.
A key to the species of Bonatea.
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.kew.org/wcsp/ accessed 1/15/2010
Bibliography and References:
Cribb PJ. 1979 The orchids of Arabia. Kew Bull. 33. (4): 651 - 678 (1979)
Johnson SD, Liltved WR. 1997 Hawkmoth pollination of Bonatea speciosa (Orchidaceae) in a South African coastal forest. Nordic J. Bot. 17. (1): 5-10 (1997)
McDonald GF. 1991 Bonatea bracteata: a new species from Natal and the Transvaal. S. Afr. Orchid J. 22. (2): 29-32 (1991)
Robbins S. 1990 Bonatea steudneri, a new record of an orchid in Saudi Arabia. Orchid Rev. 98. (1163): 298-300 (1990)
Schelpe EACLE. 1981 Bonatea pulchella. Flow Pl. Afr. 46. (3 & 4): pl. 1823 (1981) - illus., col. illus. Volume to mark 10th World Orchid Conference, Durban, 11 - 18 Sept. 1981.
Sheehan T, Sheehan M. 1998 Orchid genera illustrated: 185. Bonatea. Orchids 67. (11): 1146-1147 (1998)
Stewart J. 1978 An outstanding new species of Bonatea from South Africa. Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 47. (11): 992 - 997 (1978)