Sobralia ciliata

(Presl) C. Schweinfurth ex Foldats 1969

Native to Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru

Edited 13 April 2007
Text © Nina Rach

Sobralia ciliata photo by Erica

Sobralia ciliata (Presl) C. Schweinfurth ex Foldats 1969

Originally published by Foldats in Flora de Venezuela 15(1): 175 (1969), with a line drawing (Fig. 62 on p. 176).

Terrestrial plants growing to 2 meters tall. Inflorescenses are 8-15 cm long and appear laterally (axially) from upper leaf axils, and form racemes of 6-10 flowers, each of which lasts several days. The open, starry flowers are bright rose-purple with light green sepal tips. The dorsal sepal is approx. 2.5cm long and 0.5cm wide; the lateral sepals slightly smaller, 2.1cm long and 0.4cm wide. The petals are approx. 2.8cm long and 0.9cm wide, and the lip approx. 2.2cm long and 1.3cm wide. The lip has seven orange-yellow keels and is fringed apically, giving rise to the specific name "ciliata." The column is white with rose-purple at the apex and has fleshy wings. There are eight cream-colored pollinia.

Foldats noted that this species was known from Venezuela and Peru, and mentions that the variety found in Venezuela is probably different from the one found in Peru. The measurements provided above are based on a Venezuelan specimen. In Venezuela, it was collected by J.A. Steyermark (#9420) in Sucre state (Edo. Sucre), on the Paria Peninsula (Penins. de Paria), in cloud forest (Cerro de Humo) at 1273m.

The photo at left was provided by Erica Moron de Abad, of a plant found growing in Peru. Additionally, MOBOT's TROPICOS database lists a single specimen collected in Peru: San Martin: 2200 m, 05.45S 77.43W, 14 Aug 1983, D.N. Smith 4811 (MO).

The majority of recent specimens listed in TROPICOS are from Ecuador: 12 specimens were collected from Azuay, Morona-Santiago, and Zamora-Chinchipe, ranging in elevation from 1700 m to 2800 m. The Missouri Botanic Garden is sponsoring the Cordillera del Condor Project (CCP), led by David Neill, director of Ecuador's Herbario Nacional (QCNE), so we expect to see additional information surfacing about this and other sobralia species in the near future.

Lou Jost records recent sightings of this species in the Cordillera del Condor of Ecuador, along the (until recently?) disputed border with Peru. During the Tinkimintz Expedition of the CCP, his group ascended a sandstone mesa (just below 2000m):
The "forest", if it could be called that, was only slightly taller than us, and some of the terrestrial Sobralia ciliata orchids grew much taller than the trees. The soil was just white sand with almost no organic material, and I suppose there were not enough nutrients to grow big trees.

Printed References:

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1976) Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated, Vol. 6, pp. 402-403 (text + line-drawing). `

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1979) Orchids of Venezuela, An Illustrated Field Guide, p. 930 (line drawing). [

Ernesto Foldats (1969) "Orchidaceae," in: T. Lasser, Flora de Venezuela 15(1): 169-201. Caracas: Edicion Especial del Instituto Botanico.

Leslie A. Garay (Dec. 1978) "Flora of Ecuador: Orchidaceae," in: Opera Botanica, Stockholm: NFR, 305p. [50 Elleanthus sp.: 57-110; 24 Sobralia sp. on pp. 110-134.

P.M. JÝrgensen & S. Leůn-YŠnez (eds.) (1999) "Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador," in: Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 75: i--viii, 1--1182.

Gustavo A. Romero and German Carnevali Fernandez-Concha (15 July 2000) Orchids of Venezuela, A Field Guide (2nd Ed.). Caracas: Armitano Editores, 3 gray volumes in a purple slipcase. 70 extra drawings added to the 1050 previously published by Dunsterville and Garay in the original 1979 Field Guide, and taxonomic corrections.

C. Schweinfurth (1970) "First supplement to the Orchids of Peru," in: Fieldiana, Botany 33: 1--85.

Web References:

ING: Index Nominum Genericorum, URL: from the U.S. National Herbarium, Dept. of Systematic Biology - Botany, Smithsonian Institution

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Orchids of the High Cordillera del Condor [Ecuador]; Field report by Lou Jost, part of MOBOT's Cordillera del Condor Project.

TROPICOS - Orchidaceae Index Web-searchable (VAScular Tropicos) nomenclatural database [lists 13 collected specimens; 12 from Ecuador and 1 from Peru]

Herbarium ECSF - Species List, by Dr. Rainer W. Bussmann & Dipl. Biol. Sigrun Lange, Universitšt Bayreuth

Comments? Questions? Send e-mail:

Sobralia Pages Banner Stanhopea Pages Banner

Houston Orchid Society Banner Houston Judging Center Banner