Native to Costa Rica and Panama
Edited 19 July 2009
© Nina Rach
See the webpage on
Fregea amabilis for more complete information on this species.
Photos at left provided by Alan Miller. The plant was growing in heavy shade at about 7,000 ft on a wet hillside in Monteverde, Costa Rica, in September 2002.
This species has been collected from sites in Costa Rica ranging from 700m elevation at Estacion Pitilla (Guanacaste) to 3,100 m elevation on the Cerro Kamuk massif (Limon). However, it seems to predominate from 155-2,500m. The plans grow in pastures, on roadcuts, and in primary forest, best described as an arching herb. It has been found flowering in all months but March and December.
It has also been collected in El Salvador (2,300m, July 1975); by Francisco Morazán in Honduras (2,000m, May 1947); and by D'Arcy (15934) in the Fortuna watershed of Chiriqui Province, Panama (1,100-1,500m, August 1984).
Blooms in summer months in North America.
Pollen grains are unusually colored - dark lavender to slate blue, like the flowers. Otherwise pollinia similar to other sobralias, in grainy masses.
Photo at right courtesy of Sr. Andres Maduro, Panama. He writes: "Rare in cultivation. Dwarf red-purple species. Showy, short-lived flowers produced successively. Grow intermediate, with modestly bright-bright light, evenly moist."
Plants are available from Maduro's Tropical Flowers of Panama through
Woodstream Orchids, Maryland.
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.; hardcover. [Sobralia allenii; amabilis; atropubescens; bletiae; bouchei; bradeorum; callosa; corazoi; decora; decora var. aerata; fenzliana; fimbriata; fragrans; helleri; labiata; lepida; lindleyana; luteola; macra; macrantha; macrophylla; mucronata; neglecta; pfavii; pleiantha; powellii; suaveolens; undatocarinata; valida; warscewiczii; wercklei]
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]
William A. Haber (2001) "Plants of Monteverde: Orchidaceae" http://www.cs.umb.edu/~whaber/Monte/Plant/Orch.html, in: Monteverde Natural History,
[Sobralia amabilis, atropubescens, bradeorum, dissimilis, fragrans, helleri, macra, mucronata, powellii, cf. warscewiczii]
Stephen W. Ingram, Karen Ferrell-Ingram and Nalini M. Nadkarni (19??) Epiphytes of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Sarasota: The Bromeliad Identification Center at The Marie Selby Gardens, 44p. [no illustration of this species]
Louis Otho Williams and Paul Hamilton Allen (8 March 1946) Orchidaceae, Flora of Panama Part III. Fascicle 2., pp. 107-246, in: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 33: 30. [Sobralia allenii , amabilis, bletiae, bouchei, callosa, fenzliana, fragrans, labiata, leucoxantha, lindleyana, panamensis , decora var. aerata , rolfeana, suaveolens , valida, warszewiczii, macrophylla]
Photos by Allen Chartier -- Three very good photos from Costa Rica, March 1992, labeled Sobralia amabilis.
Photo from Genesis II Lodge, Costa Rica
International Plant Names Index [IPNI],
ING: Index Nominum Genericorum, URL: http://rathbun.si.edu/botany/ing/ from the U.S. National Herbarium, Dept. of Systematic Biology - Botany, Smithsonian Institution
Information about twenty different 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
A Checklist of the Fortuna Watershed, Chiriqui, Panama
Entry in Flora Mesoamericana
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 MCFP’s Triangle area bounded by the Senderos Río, Nuboso, and Pantanoso, and from a four hectare area of lower montane wet forest set aside for research use (southwest of Sendero Nuboso)".