Sobralia sessilis

(A. Rich.) Lindley 1841

Native to Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela

Edited 14 October 2008
text © Nina Rach

Sobralia sessilis photo by Dale Borders

Sobralia sessilis (A. Rich.) Lindley 1841

Originally published in Botanical Register 27: Misc.p.3, 1841.

This is an epiphytic species found along rivers and creeks in northern South America. Plant stems are over 1 meter long with terminal flowers. Sepals and petals are lavender-pink with whitish mid-veins. Lip is white at base, with yellow and orange centrally and pink-purple at apex. Blooms April through August, occasionally Nov-Dec.

Plant at left was grown and photographed by Dale Borders in Oregon.
See more of Dale's photos at Meyers Conservatory

In an interview with Orchid News 7 (Brazilian Orchids' online magazine),
Lou Menezes said: "I am also starting a work about Sobralia genus in Brazil, a genus as forgotten as Cyrtopodium was. In my researches, I have already elucidated a doubt about the occurrence of Sobralia sessilis in the Central Plateau. I found it in Pirinópolis, in the State of Goiás. In fact, it has widespread geographical distribution from Amazônia to South. There are 16 species and some varieties in Brazil. A correct identification of the species should be done and I am having the same problems or worse, than I had with Cyrtopodium."

Delfina de Araujo mentions that Sob. sessilis is found in the Brazilian states of Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Minas Gerais, Pará and Roraima. Fraga and Peixoto (2004) add Estado do Espirito Santo.

Sobralia sessilis closeup by Dale Borders

Photo at right is by Dale Borders.

According to Dr. Leslie Garay (pers. comm.), "The growth habit is not S. sessilis. This I assume is what Paul Allen described in AOS Bull. 27(8):534-535, 1958 as Sobralia X intermedia, but I question whether it is a putative hybrid; the S. xantholeuca parent is really questionable. This is near S. neglecta, but the lip does not have a white margin."

This species is also confused with Sobralia decora from Mexico and Central America.

Sobralia sessilis is one of eight sobralias known from Suriname (others are Sob. fimbriata, Sob. fragrans, Sob. liliastrum, Sob. macrophylla, Sob. sclerophylla, Sob. stenophylla, Sob. suaveolens and Sob. yauperyensis). In 1906, however, Pulle recognized this species as the only Sobralia in Suriname, listing collections from two locations: G.M. Versteeg specimen 589, flowering in July at the Marowyne river, near Poeloegoedoe; and H.R. Wullschlaegel specimen 1320 (ex Cogn. l. c. 344), collected at the Para River. At that time, Pulle recognized that it was also known from British Guyana (now Guyana) and Brazil.

Sobralia sessilis is one of nine sobralias known from French Guiana (others are Sob. fimbriata, Sob. fragrans, Sob. liliastrum, Sob. macrophylla, Sob. sclerophylla, Sob. stenophylla, Sob. suaveolens, and Sob. yauaperyensis). The New York Botanical Garden specimen was collected in May 1986 by S.A. Mori.

Sobralia sessilis has been featured on two stamps:
One issued by France on 29 July 1967, face value $0.40 [1192];
and another issued by Suriname on 19 January 1977, with a face value of $0.55 [463].


Paul H. Allen (1958) "Sobralia Intermedia," in: Bull. Amer. Orch. Soc. 27(8):534-535. [Sobralia decora; Sob. X intermedia; Sob. leucoxantha; Sob. liliastrum; Sob. lindleyana; Sob. macrantha; Sob. panamensis; Sob. sessilis]

Eric A. Christenson and J.K. Boggan (1996) "ORCHIDACEAE of the Guianas, in: Checklist of the Plants of the Guianas". Orchidaceae webpage: URL [cited for Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana]

G. Cremers, M. Hoff, D. Barthelemy, E.A. Christenson, Ly. & L. Leneveu, & Ch. & Cl. Pawilowski (1992) Inventaire taxonomique des plantes de la Guyane francaise II - les Orchidacees. Mus. Nat. Hist. Nat., Coll. Patr. Nat. (Ser. Patr. Genetique) 7: 1-144. Sobralia sessilis is listed as species no. 275 - "Zone nord de la Guyane et une observation à la borne 4." [N.B. - this reference lists only 8 sobralias for French Guiana - excludes Sob. sclerophylla, which is on the NY Bot. garden list]

G.C.K. Dunsterville (1980) "Sobralia Sessilis--An Orchid Hunt in an Orchid Herbarium," in: Bull. Amer. Orch. Soc. 49: 486-488. [Sobralia decora, S. sessilis, S. valida; color photo of S. sessilis]

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1959) Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated, Volume 1. London: Andre Deutsch Limited. [Text and line drawings of Sob. fragrans Lindley; Sob. sessilis Lindley; Sob. suaveolens Rchb. f.; Sob. violacea Linden]

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1979) Orchids of Venezuela: An Illustrated Field Guide, p.938 [line drawing].

Ernesto Foldats (1969) "Orchidaceae," in: T. Lasser, Flora de Venezuela 15(1): 169-201. Caracas: Edicion Especial del Instituto Botanico. [Sob. candida, ciliata, dichotoma, fimbriata, fragrans, infundibuligera, liliastrum, macrophylla, paradisiaca, rosea, sessilis, speciosa, stenophylla, suaveolens, violacea, yauaperyensis]

Claudio Nicoletti de Fraga and Ariane Luna Peixoto (2004) "Florística e ecologia das Orchidaceae das restingas do estado do Espírito Santo," in: Rodriguésia 55 (84): 5-20. [Sobralia sp. nov., liliastrum, sessilis; Brazil]

Raymond M. Harley and S.J. Mayo (1980) Towards a checklist of the flora of Bahia: Scientific Names. [Sobralia lilliastrum, S. rondonii, S. sessilis]

John Lindley (1841) "Sobralia sessilis," in: Botanical Register XXVII Misc. p. 3and tab. 17. [sp.nov.]

Rogers McVaugh (1985) Flora Novo-Galiciana. Ann Arbor: The Univerity of Michigan Press, 363p. [pp. 292-294, incl. line drawing]

Dr. A. Pulle (1906) An enumeration of the vascular plants known from Surinam, together with their distribution and synonymy. Leiden: E.J. Brill Ltd. [Sobralia sessilis, p.128]

Charles Schweinfurth (Dec 30, 1970) First Supplement to the Orchids of Peru, in: Fieldiana, Botany, 33(1): 1-80. [Sobralia ciliata, sessilis, p.3-4]

Samuel Sprunger [Ed.] (1991) Orchids from the Botanical Register 1815--1847. Basel: Birkhauser Verlag, 2 Volume set. [Sobralia macrantha; Sob. sessilis Lindley]

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. [Sobralia bradeorum, chatoensis, decora, fenzliana, fragrans, helleri, lindleyana, luteola, macrantha, mucronata, powellii, suaveolens, triandra, warscewiczii; pp.1829-1834]

Marga C.M. Werkhoven (1986) Orchids of Suriname. Paramaribo, Suriname: VACO N.V. Uitgeversmaatschappij, 256p. [Sobralia sessilis p. 232, text and location map, color photo p. 213)


Orchids of Central French Guiana (New York Botanical Garden)

Catalogue of Vascular Plant Species of Eastern Brazil, The New York Botanical Garden. [3 collections of Sob. sessilis]

International Plant Names Index [IPNI]

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