Sobralia luteola

Rolfe 1898

Native to Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Edited 22 March 2007
© Nina Rach

Sobralia luteola photo by Greg Allikas

Sobralia luteola Rolfe

Original publication: Kew Bulletin (Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew) p. 199, 1898. Described as sourced in "Tropical America".

An epiphytic species.

In his key to the sobralias of Costa Rica and Panama, Dr. Bob Dressler (1993 describes the species: "Lip distinctly hairy, keels low throughout; normally has 2-3 flowers and several buds at once; [Color:] creamy yellow with orange beard in throat, lip with purple border;" Distribution: Nicaragua and possibly north, Costa Rica (Atlantic-Caribbean lowlands, Mountains 800-2500 m); Measurements: plants grow to 80 cm; Sepals 3-3.5 cm.

Synonym: S. pleiantha. Pictured on a 5-cent stamp issued by Nicaragua in 1962, but labeled as Sobralia pleiantha.

Observed growing epiphytically at 500m elevation in Cerro Las Torres, Fila divisoria con Rio Machaca, Golfito, Osa peninsula area, Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica (Pacific coast). Blooming 31 January 1992 (MOBOT Specimen: Gerardo Herrera 5040).

Photo at left provided by Greg Allikas, The Orchid Photo Page.

AOS Award:

Sobralia luteola (syn. pleiantha) 'Sun Prarie' CBR/AOS
Chicago Center Monthly Judging, 11 Sept. 2004 [AQ 37(2), p. 143, B&W photo]
"Two flowers on two inflorescenses; plant with 24 growths, 37 by 44 cm, grown in 14-cm deep plastic pot; leaves ovate, 13.7 by 5.2 cm; sepals and petals pale yellow-green, overlaid butterscoth yellow; lip tubular, throat russet, crenelated apically; column and anther cap white; substance medium; texture matte; species native to Central America; identified by John Beckner, Orchid Identification Center. Natural spread 6.0 cm, 4.0 cm vert; ds 1.4 cm w, 5.2 cm l; pet 1.5 cm w, 4.4 cm l; ls 1.5 cm w, 4.3 cm l; lip 1.5 cm w, 4.3 cm l. Exhibited by Bil Nelson, Milwaukee, WI."

Printed References:

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp. No illustration of this species. [Sob. allenii; Sob. amabilis; Sob. atropubescens ; Sob. bletiae; Sob. bouchei; Sob. bradeorum; Sob. callosa ; Sob. corazoi; Sob. decora; Sob. decora var. aerata; Sob. fenzliana; Sob. fimbriata; Sob. fragrans; Sob. helleri; Sob. labiata; Sob. lepida; Sob. lindleyana; Sob. luteola; Sob. macra; Sob. macrantha ; Sob. macrophylla; Sob. mucronata; Sob. neglecta; Sob. pfavii; Sob. pleiantha; Sob. powellii; Sob. suaveolens ; Sob. undatocarinata; Sob. valida; Sob. warscewiczii; Sob. wercklei]

Leslie A. Garay (Jan. 1978) "Studies in American Orchids X," in: Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard Univ. 26(1):1-38. [Sob. fenzliana, luteola, powellii, warscewiczii]

Fritz Hamer (1990) Orchids of Central America: An Illustrated Field Guide (M-Z), in: Selbyana 11(Suppl.):423-860 [Line drawings: p.594: Palmorchis silvicola; pp.764-781: Sobralia bradeorum, chatoensis, decora, fenzliana, fragrans, helleri, lepida, lindleyana, luteola, macra, macrantha, macrantha var. kienastiana, mucronata, powellii, suaveolens, triandra, warscewiczii, xantholeuca]

W.D. Stevens, Carmen Ulloa Ulloa, Amy Pool & Olga Martha Montiel (editores) (2001) Flora de Nicaragua -- Orchidaceae. Monogr. Syst. Bot. 85: 12666. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, in Spanish and Latin. [Sobralia bradeorum, chatoensis, decora, fenzliana, fragrans, helleri, lindleyana, luteola, macrantha, mucronata, powellii, suaveolens, triandra, warscewiczii; pp.1829-1834]

Web References:

Information about a single collected specimen in: BIMS Database for Costa Rica [Biodiversity Information Management System].

Harvard University Herbarium (as of 10 April 2003), Index of Botanical Specimens. URL: [99 sobralias listed]

Manual de la Flora de Costa Rica,

Comments or questions? Send e-mail:

Sobralia Pages Banner Stanhopea Pages Banner

Houston Orchid Society Banner Houston Judging Center Banner