Tuesday 12 June 2012

A new species of Orchid from Bahia State, Brazil.

Orchids of the genus Encyclia are widespread in the American tropics, living as epiphytes (plants that live on other plants, typically on the branches of rainforest trees), terrestrial herbs and on exposed rocks. They are found from Florida to northern Argentina, and live in a wide variety of habitats, including dry forests, seasonally dry forests, seasonally flooded, semi-deciduous and deciduous forests. They are herbaceous plants with fleshy leaves and large, showy, fragrant flowers.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 4 January 2012, Cláudia Bastos and Cássio van den Berg of the Programa de Pós-graduação em Botânica at the Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana and Thiago Meneguzzo of the Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro describe a new species of Orchid in the genus Encyclia from the montane wet forest of southern Bahia State.

The new species is named as Encyclia fimbriata, referring to the structure of the flower. It is described from a specimen found growing in the herbarium of the Comissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira, but which matched the description of an unidentified orchid in an earlier paper listing wild flowers in the mountains of southern Bahia (Amorim et al. 2009).

Encyclia fimbriata is a herbaceous epiphytic plant, with 20-27 cm sword-shaped leaves growing in clusters of three per-pseudobulb (bulbs are underground structures that are used by plants to survive dormant periods when the rest of the plant dies; orchids have structures referred to as pseudobulbs, which resemble bulbs but are not in the ground and are part of plants which tend not to have dormant periods). It produces a raceme of flowers over 50 cm in length, the flowers being trilobate, cream to tan with purple streaks.

Encyclia fimbriata. (A) Habit. (B) Dorsal Sepal. (C) Lateral sepal. (D) Petal. (E) Labellum. (F) Callus of the labellum. (G) Detail of the fringed area on the labellum midlobe. (H) Column in ventral view. (I) Column in dorsal view. (J) Column in lateral view. (K) Anther cap in dorsal view. (L) Anther cap in ventral view. (M) Pollinarium. Bastos et al. (2012).

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