Leptotes harryphillipsii confirmed to be Leptotes pauloensis

Leptotes harryphillipsii confirmed to be Leptotes pauloensis

Award 20124601 - Chicago Jim Spatek

Leptotes harryphillipsii E. A. Christenson, spnov.

TYPE: BRAZIL. Without precise locality, flowering in cultivation in Encinitas, California, March 2004, Christenson 2067 (holotype: NY).

Species haec L. pauloensis Hoehne similis sed labello cuneato acuto differt.

Miniature caespitose epiphytes. Pseudobulbs terete, 0.6 cm long, completely enveloped by a tubular papery bract. Leaves one, terete, sulcate, rigid, leathery, reticulately wrinkled on the outside, smooth within the sulcus, to 4.2 x 0.3 cm. Inflorescences solitary, wiry, 0.5 cm long, subtended by minute papery bracts, the floral bract ovate, 0.2 cm long. Flowers solitary, the sepals and petals pink with darker veins, the lateral lip lobes pale pink with darker veins, the center of the lip white with yellow suffusion around the yellow apical keel, the margins of the lip midlobe pale pink with darker pink veins, the column pale green. Sepals and petals lanceolate, acuminate, spreading, the dorsal sepal and petals 1.2 x 0.3 cm, the lateral sepals broader, 1.2 x 0.4 cm. Lip three-lobed, 1 cm long, the lateral lobes obliquely obovate, obtuse-rounded, incurved, the midlobe suborbicular, cuneate, acute, with finely fimbriate lateral margins, 0.6 x 0.7 cm, the callus biseriate, the basal callus a triangular notch continuing as a shallow groove to the base of the midlobe, the apical callus a keel from just below the middle of the midlobe to the apex. Column straight, 0.5 cm long.

Etymology: Named in honor of Harry Phillips, Manager of Andy’s Orchids in Encinitas, California.

   Admittedly, Lharryphillipsii is very closely related to L.pauloensis and with new information some authors might want to include it as a subspecies of the latter but it differs in two distinct features of the lip. In Lpauloensis the midlobe of the lip is sessile at the base and notched at the apex. In contrast, the midlobe of the lip in Lharryphillipsii arises from a distinctly wedge-shaped (cuneate) base and the apex is acute, even when the lateral margins are fully flattened (i.e., the apex does not merely appear acute by infolding of the adjacent margins). The rare original illustration of Lpauloensis was reproduced in color in Withner (1993).

   One feature of LharryphillipsiiLpauloensis, and Ltenuis that has barely been mentioned in the literature and(or) included in drawings of the flowers is the presence of a keel or keels on the lip midlobe. This is really quite clearly seen in fresh flowers because the keel is usually either yellow against a contrasting background or a brighter shade of yellow than the background. If the genus was larger, these three species might deserve recognition as a distinct section largely on the basis of this character combined with other characters like the midlobe having fringed margins. Further dividing such a small group, however, would be tantamount to taxonomic overkill. It appears that this keel is longer in Lpauloensis, covering about 2/3 of the lip midlobe, than in Lharryphillipsii, where it covers only about half the lip midlobe, but my sampling size is far too small to show that this is a consistent feature. Similarly, the sepals and petals of L.harryphillipsii appear to be proportionately narrower than those of Lpauloensis but again I don’t have enough data and much of the available information is skewed towards selected horticultural examples of the latter.

   Hopefully some industrious Brazilian botanists will do a detailed geographic and ecological study comparing Lharryphillipsii withLpauloensis, as well as other species in the genus, and show their exact relationship.

Leptotes harryphillipsii , - Award 20124601, has been confirmed to be Leptotes pauloensis by SITF (April 2012) with assistance of Cássio van den Berg. 


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