Fregea amabilis

Rchb.f. 1852


Native to Costa Rica and Panama

Edited 18 May 2007
© Nina Rach


Fregea amabilis type-drawing

Fregea amabilis Rchb.f.
Original publication: Botanische Zeitung. Berlin 10:712-713. 1852.

The genus Fregea was established by the younger Reichenbach, Heinrich Gustav, in 1852, with F. amabilis as the type species. The genus is named for Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege, a German philosopher and mathematician, and pronounced "FRAY-gee-uh."

In 1946, the type species was reclassified as Sobralia amabilis (Rchb.f.) L.O. Williams, comb. nov. in: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 33: 30. Likewise, Dressler (1993) considers Fregea to be encompassed by Sobralia but I think there are sufficient differences for the genus to stand on its own, as Reichenbach originally specified. The type drawing for the species is provided at left. The only other species in the genus is Fregea wercklei Schlechter 1923.

Dressler (1993) describes the species thus: "Lip about 3 cm long [color] magenta; [distribution]: Costa Rica and Panama [Atlantic (Caribbean) lowlands, up to 1000 m, and mountains 800-2500 m]; [plants] 15-50 cm [high]; [sepals] 3 cm". Dressler distinguishes Sob. lepida as a species in which the "bracts are much longer than the flowers; sepals basally united to form dfinite tube; [color] dark purple-violet; [sepals] 2.3-2.5 cm".

The column of Fregea amabilis is distinctively very short, about the size of the lateral brachiae. The petals taper to a point. Although this species has similarities to Sobralia lepida Rchb.f., this appears to be a clear case for evolutionary convergence, where independent lines produce outwardly similar organisms.

This species has been collected from sites in Costa Rica ranging from 700m elevation at Estacion Pitilla (Guanacaste) to 3100m elevation on the Cerro Kamuk massif (Limon). However, it seems to predominate from 155-2500m. The plans grow in pastures, on roadcuts, and in primary forest, best described as an arching herb. It has been found flowering in January, February, April, May, June, July, August, October, and November.

It has also been collected by Francisco Morazn in Honduras (2,000 m, May 1947); and by D'Arcy (15934) in the Fortuna Watershed of Chiriqui Province, Panama (1,100-1,500 m, August 1984).


Fregea amabilis aerogramme from Costa Rica Printed References:

Margaret A. Dix and Michael W. Dix (2000) Orchids of Guatemala: A Revised Annotated Checklist. 61p. [Elleanthus capitatus, E. caricoides, E. cynarocephalus, E. graminifolius, E. hymenophorus, E. linifolius, E. poiformis; Sobralia amabilis, S. decora, S. fragrans, S. leucoxantha, S. macra, S. macrantha, S. mucronata, S. xantholeuca]

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp. [as S. amabilis, p.321; no illus.]

Robert L. Dressler (1980) "Checklist of the Orchids of Panama," in: Orchids of Panama. 590 pages (pp. I-XXVI). Missouri Botanical Garden. [Sobralia allenii, amabilis, atropubescens (was decora var. aerata), bletiae, bouchei, callosa, fenzliana (was panamensis), fragrans, labiata, lindleyana, macrophylla (was rolfeana), powellii (was leucoxantha), suaveolens, undatocarinata, valida, warszewiczii]

C. K. Horich (1993) "Die Heimat von Fregea amabilis Rchb. f.," in: Orchidee 44(5): 239-242.

Stephen W. Ingram, Karen Ferrell-Ingram and Nalini M. Nadkarni (19??) Epiphytes of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Bromeliad Identification Center at The Marie Selby Gardens, Sarasota, Florida, 44p. [as Sobralia amabilis]

Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach [aka Rchb. f.] (8 Oct 1852) Botanische Zeitung. Berlin 10:712-713. [Fregea amabilis]

Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1866) Beitr. Orch. Central America 10, t.2 [Fregea amabilis]

Louis O. Williams and Paul H. Allen (1946). Orchidaceae, Flora of Panama, in: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 33: 30. [reprinted 1980 to include "A Checklist of the Orchids of Panama as Known Today," by Robert L. Dressler]


Web References:

The Genus Fregea, by Nina Rach

Fregea wercklei Schlechter 1923, by Nina Rach

"Sobralia lepida," (Rchb.f.) Hamer 1975, by Nina Rach

Photos by Allen Chartier -- Three very good photos from Costa Rica, March 1992, labeled Sobralia amabilis.

International Plant Names Index (IPNI)

The Plants Database - reference to Frege

Information about twenty different collected specimens of Sobralia amabilis is contained in the BIMS Database for Costa Rica [Biodiveristy Information Management]

William A. Haber (2001) "Plants of Monteverde: Orchidaceae" in: Monteverde Natural History

Photo from Genesis II Lodge, Costa Rica [as Sobralia amabilis]

A Checklist of the Fortuna Watershed, Chiriqui, Panama

Entry in Flora Mesoamericana

Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT), Reference and photo in: W3 TROPICOS, nomenclatural database.

Epiphytes of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, by Stephen W. Ingram; "...a list of all the species of vascular epiphytes known to occur within the MCFPs Triangle area bounded by the Senderos Ro, Nuboso, and Pantanoso, and from a four hectare area of lower montane wet forest set aside for research use (southwest of Sendero Nuboso)".



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