Sobralia leucoxantha

Rchb.f. 1866

Native to Costa Rica, Panama, Peru

Edited 12 February 2008
© Nina Rach

Sobralia leucoxantha photo by A. Maduro

Sobralia leucoxantha Rchb.f. 1866

Original publication: Beitr. Orch. Centr. Am. 68. 1866.
Type species: Costa Rica

The source of this specific name is from the Greek leucos which means bright, brilliant, clear, white, or pale and xanthos which means yellow or red-yellow; hence, whitish yellow.
Compare with Sobralia xantholeuca.

Solitary white flowers are borne on terminal racemes atop stems which reach approximately 3-ft (1 m). Flowers are 4 to 5 inches across. Blooms in summer.

Photo at left by Sr. Andres Maduro, Panama. This plant was originally identified as Sob. macra, but Sob. macra has no median ridge on the lip, while Sob. leucoxantha has a distinct ridge. Sr. Maduro notes: "Rare in cultivation. Tall-growing species with showy short-lived large white flowers, produced successively. Grow intermediate, with moderately bright-bright light, evenly moist."

From "The Cutting Edge," Volume VIII, Number 4, October 2001:
"A well-known ornamental Sobralia (Orchidaceae) with golden-lipped flowers, ranging along the Atlantic slope from Nicaragua to central Panama, has long been called either S. leucoxantha Rchb. f. or S. powellii Schltr. The latter name has been established as applying to a rather different sp. of central Panama. Now, examination of the type of S. leucoxantha (one of the two entities alluded to in the title) reveals that this name has also been misapplied; correctly, Sobralia leucoxantha is the oldest name for a more humble sp., of Costa Rica and Panama, heretofore known as S. macra Schltr. The flashier, golden-lipped sp., momentarily nameless, is here formally christened as Sobralia chrysostoma Dressler (the second entity of the title). No specimens are cited other than the type."

Synonym: Sobralia powellii Schlecter 1922

Plants were observed flowering in Costa Rica at 600-850m elevation in March and July. A specimen was collected from the Fortuna watershed, Chiriqui Province, Panama, by Thompson (5046).

See the webpage on White Sobralias.

Sobralia x intermedia is a natural hybrid of Sobralia decora x leucoxantha, found in Panama (P. Allen, 1958).

Sobralia Dellensis = leucoxantha x lowii, registered in 1907.

Sobralia Shinjik = Dellensis x macrantha, registered in 1923.

See the webpage on Sobralia Hybrids.

AOS award to this Sobralia species:

Sobralia leucoxantha 'Cielo' CCM/83 pts
Awarded in Tampa, FL, July 1968 (Register of Awards 6, p.1220)
"Seven flowers and three buds; 26 bulbs and three new growths; overall height of plant 56 inches; plant in good cultural condition and flowers of good quality; light creamy white in tepals with definite yellow throat. Natural spread of flower 4 1/2"; dorsal sepal 7/8" wide, 3 1/8' long; petal 1" wide, 3" long; lateral sepals 1" wide, 2 7/8" long; lip 1 3/4" wide, 1 5/8" long. Exhibited by John Beckner, St. Petersburg, FL."

Printed References:
Paul Hamilton Allen (1958) "Sobralia x intermedia," in: American Orchid Society Bulletin 27(8): 534-535. [discusses natural hybrid, Sobralia x intermedia (decora x leucoxantha), as well as S. liliastrum; S. lindleyana; S. macrantha; S. panamensis; S. sessilis]

H.M. Butterfield (April 1955) Orchids for the California Amateur. University of California College of Agriculture, California Agricultural Experiment Station Extension Service, Manual 18, 66p. [Sobralia leucoxantha, macrantha, xantholeuca on p. 51]

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 2001. "Two Sobralias," in: Orchids, magazine of the Amer.Orch.Soc., 70(8): 750-751, 770. ["Features fine close-up color photos of flowers of both S. chrysostoma and S. leucoxantha, by Kerry A. Dressler."]

Robert L. Dressler (April-May-June 1998) "A New White Sobralia from Costa Rica," in: Orchid Digest 62(2): 89-91. [Sobralia kerryae; also S. leucoxantha, S. powelii, S. fenzliana = S. decora]

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]

Robert L. Dressler and Diego Bogarin C. (September 2007) "Two attractive new species of Sobralia from Panama," in: Orchids, magazine of the Amer. Orch. Soc., 76(9): 696-701.
[New: Sob. fuzukiae, mireyae. Mentioned with regard to Sob. fuzukiae: Sob. candida, lancea, pardalina, quinata, leucoxantha, nutans. Mentioned with regard to Sob. mireyae: Sob. macrophylla, leucoxantha, citrea, kerryae, kruskayae, theobromina, bouchei, wilsoniana]

Reichenbach (1866) "Sobralia leucoxantha," in: Beitr. Orch. Centr. Am. 68.

Louis Otho Williams and Paul Hamilton Allen (8 March 1946) Orchidaceae, Flora of Panama Part III. Fascicle 2., pp. 107-246, in: Ann. Missouri Botanical Garden 33: 30. [Sobralia allenii, amabilis, bletiae, bouchei, callosa, fenzliana, fragrans, labiata, leucoxantha, lindleyana, panamensis , decora var. aerata, rolfeana, suaveolens, valida, warszewiczii, macrophylla]

Louis Otho Williams and Paul Hamilton Allen (reprinted 1980) Orchids of Panama. 590 pages. 1980 reprint of 1946 also includes "Checklist of the Orchids of Panama," by Robert L. Dressler.

Online References:
International Plant Names Index (IPNI)

Harvard University Herbarium (as of 10 April 2003), Index of Botanical Specimens. URL: [99 Sobralias listed: Sobralia allenii; amesiana; amparoae; atropubescens; biflora; bimaculata; bletiae; bouchei; bradeorum; buchtienii; callosa; corazoi; crocea; decora; decora Bateman var. aerata P. H. Allen & L. O. Williams; edwardsii; epiphytica; fenzliana; fimbriata; galeottiana; hoppii; infudibuligera (infundibuligera); klotzscheana; labiata; lancea; lepida; leucoxantha; lindleyana; luteola; macra; macrantha; macrophylla; mandonii; mucronata; neglecta; panamensis; panamensis Schlechter var. albiflos Schlechter; persimilis; pfavii; pleiantha; powellii; pulcherrima; rigidissima; rolfeana; rosea; roseo-alba; sancti-josephi; sanderae; semperflorens; speciosa; suaveolens; sulphurea; undatocarinata; valida; violacea; warszewiczi; wilsoniana]

A Checklist of the Fortuna Watershed, Chiriqui, Panama

Information about collected specimens can be found in the BIMS Database for Costa Rica [Biodiversity Information Management System].

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