Sobralia crocea

(Poeppig & Endlicher) Rchb.f. 1853

Native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, possibly Venezuela & Suriname

Edited 13 April 2007
© Nina Rach

Sobralia photo by Moises Cavero

Sobralia crocea (Poeppig & Endlicher) Rchb.f.

Published in Fl. des Serres 8:247, 1853.
Basionym: Cyathoglottis crocea Poepp. & endl., Nov. Gen. ac Sp. Pl. 1:55, 1836. The type specimen derived from Peru: Dept. Huanuco, Cuchero, Poerr 1580! (W.)


This is a terrestrial species of short stature, foliage to 50cm high, with terminal inflorescenses bearing 1-3 tubular flowers. Sepals are bright orange, petals pale yellow, lip cream with a red callus bearing seven keels. It is cool-growing, and has been collected in Ecuadoran forest at 1600 m.


The photos were provided by Moises Cavero, who observed them flowering in January 2003, at 1600m elevation in montane forest in Peru. He noted that the orange flowers were 2.5cm long.

Sobralia photo by Moises Cavero



Species similar in appearance:
Sobralia exilis,
Sobralia persimilis, and
Sobralia valida.



Plants are available from in Colombia.


AOS awards to this Sobralia species:

Sobralia crocea 'Eichenfel's Jellybeans' CHM/82 pts, Northeast Center Monthly Judging, 18 November 2000 (AQ 33(2): 134).
"Twenty-five flowers and one bud on 26 terminal inflorescenses; plant typical of genus with leaves alternating on approximately 48-cm canes; flowers among the smallest of the genus, partially open, brilliant orange, tubular; sepals orange; petals and lip cream-colored; throat dark burgundy; substance waxy; texture glossy; awarded for pleasing presentation of flowers on a floriferous, compact plant; species from Ecuador. Nat.spr. 1.4cm, 2.9cm vert; ds 0.6cm w, 2.2cm l; pet 0.5cm w, 1.9cm l; ls 0.6cm w, 1.6cm l; lip 0.5cm w, 1.5cm l. Exhibited by Ann and Phil Jesup, Bristol, Connecticut."

Sobralia crocea 'Rustic Orange' CBR, Long Beach, CA, October 1995 (AQ Vol. 27(3), p.148, B&W photo)
"One tubular flower on one terminal inflorescence; rarely seen, brilliantly colored, tiny flowered Sobralia from Ecuador and of interesting educational value; plant bamboo-like, 48 cm high, a miniature of the genus; sepals dark orange, petals and lip creamy orange, throat chestnut; substance waxy; texture glossy. Nat. spr. 1.4cm, 1.0cm vert; ds 0.6cm w, 2.3cm l; pet 0.4cm w, 1.8cm l; ls 0.6cm w, 2.5cm l; lip 0.6cm w, 2.2cm l. Exhibitor: Howard Liebman, MD, Pacific Palisades, CA."

Sobralia crocea 'Tangerine Squeeze' CHM/80 pts, Pacific South Center Monthly Judging, 23 July 2001 (AQ 33(2): 134).
"Thirteen brilliant red-orange flowers on eight inflorescenses; petals yellow-orange; lip pale yellow with maroon throat centrally, lighter at apex; substance soft; texture waxy; commended for potential breeding of orange sobralias; identified by Eric Christenson, Ph.D. Nat.spr. 1.4cm, 1.3cm vert; ds 0,5cm w, 2.8cm l; pet 0.7cm w, 2.4cm l; ls 0.5cm w, 2.8cm l; lip 0.8cm w, 1.6cm l. Exhibited by Cindy Hill, Solana Beach, CA."

Printed References:

David E. Bennett and Eric A. Christenson (1998) Icones Orchidacearum Peruviarum. Plates 401-600. Unbound, 400pp. Sobralia crocea on Plate 572.

Rainer W. Bussmann (Sept 2001) "A Phytosociological Study of the montane vegetation of Reserva Biologica San Francisco, Zamora-Chinchipe, Southern Ecuador," 44pp, presented at an intl. conference: "Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin - linking Science, NGOs, and Local Communities." On the "Nature and Culture International" website; URL:
[Sobralia fimbriata, crocea, candida found colonizing clearings of lower montane forests, 1800-2150m, northern end of Podocarpus National Park, southern Ecuador]

Calaway H. Dodson (1988) "A list of the orchid species reported for Ecuador" in: Orquídeas de la costa del Ecuador / Orchids from the Coast of Ecuador, pp. 115-129. [55 Elleanthus sp., from E. amethystinoides to E. zamorensis; Palmorchis lobulata, P. pandurata, P. silvicola; Sobralia atropubescens, S. biflora, S. candida, S. ciliata, S. corazoi, S. crocea, S. d'orbignyana, S. dichotoma, S. fenzliana, S. fimbriata, S. fragrans, S. gloriosa, S. kermesiana, S. klotzscheana, S. lancea, S. liliastrum, S. macrophylla, S. madisonii, S. pardalina, S. persimilis, S. powellii, S. pucherrima, S. rigidissima, S. rosea, S. setigera, S. sobraliodes, S. suaveolens, S. valida; Xerorchis amazonica, X.trichorhiza]

Leslie A. Garay (28 Dec. 1978). "Orchidaceae," in: Flora of Ecuador, No. 9, edited by Gunnar Harling and Benkt Sparre, in: Opera Botanica, Stockholm: NFR, 305p. [50 Elleanthus sp.: 57-110; 24 Sobralia sp. on pp. 110-134: Sob. atropubescens, biflora, candida, ciliata, corazoi, crocea, d'orbignyana, fenzliana, fimbriata, gloriosa, kermesina, klotzscheana, lancea, lepida, macrophylla, pardalina, persimilis, powellii, pulcherrina, rigidissima, rosea, setigera, sobralioides, valida] Sobralia crocea on pp.117-118, line-drawing of lip on p.121 (Fig. 37F).

Peter M. Jørgensen and S. Leon-Yanez, Eds. (30 July 1999) Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 1181p. ISBN: 0-915279-60-6

Pedro Ortiz V. (1998) "Sobralia Ruiz & Pavon" in: Native Colombian Orchids, Volume 6: Supplement Leucohyle - Zootrophion. Colombian Orchid Society, Medellin: Compania Litografica Nacional S.A., pp. 1014-1019. [includes color photos of Sobralia crocea; sp. -R. Escobar No.401; violacea; uribei; macrophylla; rosea; atropubescens; sp. -R. Escobar No.8197; cf. gloriosa; sp. -R. Escobar No.1124; Sobralia gloriosa Rchb.f. is featured on the back cover of this volume]

Web References:

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

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Eric A. Christenson and J.K. Boggan (1996) "ORCHIDACEAE of the Guianas, in: Checklist of the Plants of the Guianas". Orchidaceae webpage: URL [noted for Suriname]

Inventory of the vascular plants of Maquipucuna, Ecuador
From the Monocot list:
"180. Sobralia crocea (Poepp. & Endl.) Rchb. f. Sec. for., 1600 m; terr.: Dodson 6992; Molau 2230"

TROPICOS - W3CEC: Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador: [Elleanthus; Sobralia atropubescens, biflora, candida, ciliata, corazoi, crocea, dichotoma, dorbignyana, ecuadoriana, fenzliana, fimbriata, fragrans, gentryi, gloriosa, hagsateri, kermesiana, klotzscheana, lancea, lepida, luerorum, macrophylla, madisonii, neudeckeri, oroana, pardalina, persimilis, piedadae, powellii, pulcherrima, rigidissima, rosea, setigera, sobralioides, stevensonii, suaveolens, tamboana, valida, violacea, yauaperyensis]

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