Sobralia xantholeuca

hortorum ex Williams 1885

Native to Mexico (Chiapas) and Guatemala

Edited 5 August 2009
© Nina Rach

Sob. xantholeuca by Jay Vannini

Sobralia xantholeuca hortorum ex Williams 1885

Original publication: Orchid Grow. Man. ed. 6 (1885) 576; Orchid Album 6 (1886) f. 250; in Bot. Mag. t. 7332 (1894).
Type specimen: Guatemala.

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


Photos at left and right provided by Jay Vannini.


Sob. xantholeuca photo by Jay Vannini


Plants are robust, summer-blooming terrestrials, growing in moist conditions in bright light or full sun. Flowers are creamy yellow with a brighter yellow lip and orange center. Natural spread up to 8" across.



According to the IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Sobralia xantholeuca is designated as "Endangered."


Sobralia xantholeuca, Plate 250 Orchid Album


The image at left is Plate 250 (1887) from The Orchid Album, issued by Warner and Williams. The entire works consisted of a total of 528 plates which were bound in eleven volumes and published in London between 1882-1897. The orchids were drawn by Mr. John Nugent Fitch and are hand-colored. The size of the original print is 9 1/2 inches by 12 inches.



Sobralia xantholeuca lithograph

The image at right depicts a chromolithograph published in Paris in 1890 in "Revue Horticole, Journal D'horticulture Pratique." (Title page) Founde en 1829 par les auteurs’ du Bon Jardiner (founded by the authors of "du Bon Jardiner.")


Seedlings and near-blooming size plants may be available from:
(1)Tropical Orchid Farm, Haiku, Hawaii;
(2) Hoosier Orchids, Indiana;
(3) MCM Orchids, Illinois;
(4) Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, California.


Sobralia Amesiae (wilsoniana x xantholeuca) Sanders (St.Albans) 1895

Sobralia Baron Ohara (Amesiae x xantholeuca) Tokyo Bot. Gardens 1923

Sobralia Colmanae (Veitchii x xantholeuca) Colman 1907

Sobralia Edina (holfordii x xantholeuca) Edin. Bot. Garden 1926

Sobralia Inverleith (lowii x xantholeuca) Edin. Bot. Garden 1926

Sobralia Mirabilis (macrantha x Veitchii) Sanders (St.Albans) 1903

Sobralia Veitchii (macrantha x xantholeuca) Veitch 1894

Sobralia Wiganiae (xantholeuca x ???) 1856

Sobralia Yellow Kiss (xantholeuca x Mirabilis) SBOE 1999

Visit the webpage on Sobralia Hybrids.

Printed References:
Oakes Ames and Donovan Stewart Correll (29 Aug 1952) Orchids of Guatemala. Fieldiana: Botany 26(1). Chicago Natural History Museum. 395p. [Sobralia decora , decora var. aerata - Panama, fragrans, macrantha, mucronata, xantholeuca, pp. 64-71]

Oakes Ames and Donovan Stewart Correll (1985) Orchids of Guatemala and Belize. New York: Dover Press, 779 p. [Sob. decora Bateman ; Sob. decora var. aerata Bateman ; Sob. fragrans Lindley; Sob. macrantha Lindley; Sob. mucronata Ames & C. Schweinfurth; Sob. xantholeuca Hort ex Williams]

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]

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]

C. K. Horich (1978) "Sobralia xantholeuca," in: Orchidee 29(5): 214 - 215 - illus.

Marilyn H.S. Light (November 2007) 'Sobralia xantholeuca', in: Central Vancouver Island Orchid Society Newsletter, pp. 4-5, with photo. Weblink: -- propagation and cultural information.

Jean Jules Linden & Lucien Linden (English reprint) Lindenia, An Iconography of Orchids. [5 sobralias: Sobralia x Veitchii - vol V, p.292; Sobralia lindenii - vol IV, p.328; Sobralia violacea - vol III. p.34; Sobralia xantholeuca - vol V, p.106; Sobralia xantholeuca var. alba - vol V. p.226] all with

[French edition, 1885-1906, 814 plates, Ghent]
[English edition, 1891-1897, 312 plates in 13 volumes, issued in 78 parts of four plates each, published by Naturalia]

Web References for Sobralia xantholeuca:
International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Photo by Greg Steenbeeke of Orkology Kreations, © 1998.

"Sobralia" from Orchids A to Z by the AOS.

Dictionary of Botanical Epithets

Comments? Questions? Send e-mail:

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