Sobralia pfavii

Schlechter 1923

Costa Rican endemic

Edited 30 March 2007
© Nina Rach

Botanical Museum, Helsinki
Sobralia pfavii photo needed

According to F. Pupulin (1997), this species is named for Ricardo (Richard) PFAU. Pfau was born in Switzerland and collected plants in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Pfau died in 1897. Reichenbach referred to him as "Herr Pfavi" (latinized form of his surname) and named many new species after him, but he did not get around to publishing the new species, Sobralia pfavii. IPNI and other sources list Schlechter as the author of this species, which was finally validated in 1923.

Dr. Eric Christenson provided the following:
There are records at Kew of receiving specimens from Pfau, 1889-1894. We have no data before 1889. Pfau's Costa Rica collections are at Kew with the orchids sent separately to Vienna. His Guatemala collections are at Kew. His Panama collections are at the Smithsonian. Now here is where it gets interesting and may explain his relative obscurity - his private collection (specimens, drawings, notebooks, who knows what else) are deposited in Helsinki, Finland. The herbarium is at the Botanical Museum (photo at left), now part of the Finnish Museum of Natural History, previously affiliated with the University of Helsinki.

The holotype of Sobralia pfavii, Reichenbach's drawings, and Pfau's original drawing are all conserved at Vienna.

Printed References:

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 374p.

Franco Pupulin (1997) "Il gruppo Trichocentrum pfavii. (The Trichocentrum pfavii group)," in: Caesiana v. 8. p. 1-14.

Rudolf Schlechter (1923) in: Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 19: 272.

Online References:

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

International Plant Names Index [IPNI]:

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

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