A while back I posted a blog on the Leopard Orchid (Ansellia africana), an indigenous epiphytic orchid found in our area. Nine months ago we found a large colony of about fifty huge plants averaging a meter in diameter. The site was a valley of a tributary of the Tugela River, approximately 40km inland. I have wanted to get back to photo the plants when in flower. Last week we went through and visited the plants in the late afternoon. Here are a few images
a few more beauties flowering in my garden. The first is Birfranaria harrisonae, a lovely flower. I received this plant three years ago and it was a stubborn flowerer, finally this year it has come through with a number of lively flowers.
Second we have one of my recent purchases (from the National Orchid Show held here in PMB). This is Pragmapedium Memoria Dick Clements, a hybrid (P besseae x P sargentianum). As far as the red hybrids go this is one of the best with an almost metallic look to it.
Well, winter is over and we have Spring upon us. With Spring comes loads of flowers. Before we visit the garden I will show you all some beautiful orchids flowering in my home at the moment.
The first is the lolly Oncidium Sharry Baby, a great plant, easy to flower and it smells of chocolate. The flowers last ages so this is a great plant for the home.
The next plant is Angraecum sesquipedale, Darwins orchid named as such as he predicted that an unknown moth. With a very long tongue would pollinate it. 40 years later Xanthopan morganii praedictum was discovered and named….
Next we have a hybrid of Cymbidium traceyanum. I got this as my wife’s name is Tracey and, like her, it is lovely…..enjoy
This time of year sees a lot of my orchids in flower. Rather than loads of words this time just a few pictures of some of my plants that are in flower.
Ansellia africana, the Leopard Orchid, is a fascinating plant. Discovered by Ansell on the Niger River inWest Africa in the nineteenth century the plant is considered by some to be monotypic, a single species with a genus, and others a complex of similar plants. The plant is distributed throughout most of the drier savannah areas of the Continent and is usually seen high up in trees in the sun. It is a rather messy plant, in the wild a mass of roots, old and new canes (pseudobulbs) and old flower stalks are seen alongside the distinctive leaf shape. The plant can get huge, up to an estimated 1000kg and plants in the Ndumo area of Zululand Kzn are known to have Eagle Owls nest in them.
The root system of the plant is very interesting. Roots to attach to plants and feed are present as are the “leaf catcher” roots. These roots grow upward forming a basket which traps plant little, bird matter and other detritus to compost and feed from.
These plants flower in Spring and Summer. The flowers are four to seven cm across and either butter yellow is the Southern specimens or bright yellow with purple/brown blotches.
I have a number of plants in trees, pots and hanging baskets and they do very well in all here is Pietermaritzburg.
The plant grows happily is a tree or in pot. This Spring flowerer and can grow into a massive plant and is demonstrated below.
A first photograph is of a wild growing plant, no flowers but healthy. Growing in the Mkomaas Valley, KZN. It is on a dead tree with all limbs hacked off for fire wood. The canes are about 500 mm long and 40 mm thick. In this photograph you can clearly see the “leaf catcher” roots growing upward to catch plant matter, bird poo and other detritus that might fall and compost to be used as food.
The next is of a garden plant. This plant is growing in Scottsville Pietermaritzburg. It is happy and healthy and the pollinator is present as viable seed capsules are visible. The second photograph is a close up image of the pods.
And now, the flowers. These vary, from a pure butter yellow to yellow with brown/purple spots. They are small flowers, from three to six cm across. The flowers are borne on a stalk originating at the terminal end or at a node on the cane. From twenty to fifty flowers can be found per stalk. Below are a few images of the flowers.
Here is an image of a plant from KZN