Sobralia helleri

A.D. Hawkes 1966

Native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama

Edited 17 April 2007
text © Nina Rach

Sobralia helleri photo by Andres Maduro

This species was named for the orchid collector Alfonso H. Heller (1894-1973), an American of German origin, who had an estate in the hills overlooking Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Heller had studied the orchids of Nicaragua since 1957. After his death, his work materials and library were donated by Christiane Heller to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, then under the directorship of Dr. Calaway H. Dodson. This species was originally published by Alex D. Hawkes in: Phytologia 14(1): 16-17 t.11 (1966).

Type specimen from Nicaragua, Rivas: Volcán Maderas, Isla de Ometepe, Lago de Nicaragua, epiphyte in mossy rain forest, alt. 4000 ft., May 1963, A.H. Heller 8029. Collected again in Nicaragua from Rio San Juan: 4 Jan 1995, by Ricardo Rueda, Blas Hernández and Edith Palma 2515.

Observed at 700 m [5 July 1988, Gerardo Herrera 1989 (MO)] and 820 m elevation in the Arenal area of Alajuela Province, Costa Rica, blooming in June, July, and August. Specimen collected in Monteverde, Costa Rica, Voucher # 7252.

White with blood red lip. Large species to 4' tall. Grow intermediate, with moderately bright-bright light, evenly moist.

Photo at left courtesy of Andres Maduro (Panama) and Woodstream Orchids.

AOS Award:

Sobralia helleri 'Woodstream' CBR/AOS
National Capital Center Monthly Judging, 2 February 2003 [AQ 35, p. 65; B&W photo by James Osen].
"A very attractive reed-type plant with large broad foliage; canes measure up to 70 cm with a single tubular, slightly open flower arising from apex of one cane; sepals and petals white; lip white, interior magenta rose, apex of lip magenta rose with white midline; substance and texture unable to be determined due to closed form of flower. Nat.spr. 4.4cm, 3.9cm vert; ds 3.8cm w, 8.0cm l; pet 3.0cm w, 6.5cm l; ls 3.0cm w, 8.5cm l; lip 2.4cm w, 7.0cm l." Exhibited by Woodstream Orchids, Huntingtown, Maryland.

Printed References:

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp.; hardcover. [no photo].

Fritz Hamer (2001) Flora de Nicaragua: Orchidaceae, Missouri Botanical Garden. [Hamer described 587 orchid species in 144 genera].

Fritz Hamer (1990) Orchids of Central America, an illustrated field guide, M-Z, in: Selbyana 11 (Supp.):423-860. [line drawing on p. 769]

Alex D. Hawkes (1966) in: Phytologia 14(1): 16-17, t. 11.

W.D. Stevens, Carmen Ulloa Ulloa, Amy Pool & Olga Martha Montiel (editores) (2001) Flora de Nicaragua -- Orchidaceae. Monogr. Syst. Bot. 85: 1–2666. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, in Spanish and Latin.

Web References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Entry in Flora Mesoamericana

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

Information about three specimens of Sobralia helleri can be found in the BIMS Database for Costa Rica [Biodiversity Information Management System].

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

Checklist of the Orchids of Rara Avis - one of eight Sobralias listed for this Costa Rican preserve.

Plants of Monteverde: Orchidaceae

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