Sobralia lepida


Native to El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador

Edited 18 April 2007
© Nina Rach

Sobralia lepida photo by A. Maduro

Sobralia lepida Rchb.f.

Original publication in Beitr. Orch. Centr. Am. 68.
Type species: Costa Rica

There is an illustration of this species in Icones Plantarum Tropicarum (Icon. Pl. Trop.) t.1490, labeled as Sobralia amabilis. Notice the elongate column in the illustration, however, and compare this with Reichenbach's original drawing of Fregea amabilis.

There was a collection made in El Savador (2,300 m, July 1975), initially classified as Sobralia amabilis; however, Fritz Hamer moved this specimen to S. lepida (Hamer 486!). It came from Dpto. Santa Ana, Cerro Montecristo, bosque nebuloso (cloud forest), sobre arboles (on the trees).

In 1981, Hamer published a line drawing and description in Vol. III of the Orchids of El Salvador. He wrote, "Epiphytic plant, smaller than all other known Sobralias in this country, reed-like stem and distichous, long acuminate leaves, with 1-3 red-violet flowers. Sepals red-violet with needle-like yellow tips, 16 x 6 mm; petals red-violet, 15 x 8 mm; lip 22 x 15 mm, red-violet, undulated, emarginate; Column yellow-white, short. Flowers in July-August." [Hamer's published closeup photo of flower; photo of apical inflorescence]

The photo at left is from Sr. Andres Maduro, Panama, also depicting S. lepida. A. Maduro 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.

AOS award to this Sobralia species:

Sobralia lepida 'Rustic Canyon' CHM/80 pts
Los Angeles, 13 July 1998 [Awards Quarterly Vol. 30(4), p.355, with color photo on pg. 329]
"Very rarely seen species with two delightful, bright fuchsia, flat flowers of charming conformation arising apically from two thin, 33-cm tall canes with bamboo-like foliage; origin Guatemala. Nat. spr. 5.0cm, 4.2cm vert; ds 0.2cm w, 1.9cm l; pet 1.1cm w, 2.6cm l; ls 0.7cm w, 2.3cm l; lip 1.8cm w, 2.2cm l." Pacific South Center Monthly Judging, Burbank, CA. Exhibitor: Howard Liebman, MD, Pacific Palisades, CA.

Printed References:

Awards Quarterly, Vol. 30(4), p.355, with color photo on pg. 329.

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp.

Leslie A. Garay (Dec. 1978) Flora of Ecuador: Orchidaceae, in: Opera Botanica, Stockholm: NFR, 305p.

Fritz Hamer (1975-1981) Las Orquideas de El Salvador. Three volumes [V.2, 331-337; V.3, 226-227]. Sobralia lepida is discussed in Vol. 3 (1981), p. 224-225, with a color photo on Lamina 14.

Icones Plantarum Tropicarum, t.1490.

Gustav Reichenbach (18--) Sobralia lepida," in: Beitr. Orchid. Central America 68 [type publication, from Costa Rica]

Web References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI]

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

The Genus Fregea, by Nina Rach

Fregea amabilis, by Nina Rach

Sobralia amabilis, by Nina Rach

List of orchid "Especies de El Salvador": [Sobralia decora, lepida, macra, macrantha, xantholeuca]

List of orchid species from Belize: Animales incluidos en los Apendices de la CITES: Belice

TROPICOS - W3CEC Web-Searchable 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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