Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. This week we’re focusing on a member of the Orchidaceae (Orchid) family.
Disa porrecta (lekholela in Sesotho) is a perennial epiphyte of between 200-600mm tall, usually observed at higher altitudes of up to 2000 m A.S.L. in damp grasslands from the EC – the FS. Disa or dis means 2, in possible reference to the style wings, or alternatively dis meaning rich[ly coloured] referring to the bright orange-red flowers of the genus. Porrectus means to lean forward or outwards.
This little guy appears on first sighting to resemble one of the members of the Asphodelaceae (red-hot poker) family in the process of dying-back, but on closer inspection characteristics unique to the genus become obvious. Seen on our Titanic Trail, the specimen pictured below seems to prefer areas with half day sun in close proximity to cliff-faces where the moisture content of the grassland is higher.
The leaves of D. porrecta are long and slender (300X1mm) and on casual inspection resemble a blade of grass. The inflorescence is a dense corymb with the flowers facing down. Colour ranges from a vivid pink-red to orange-red with yellow petals and lip. The sepals converge to a thin tip of around 3mm in length. A large spur is present on each flower measuring 20-40mm long and is upwards pointing. Flowering occurs from Jan-March. Uses:
Would make for an attractive garden ornamental in summer, but care must be taken to avoid full-day sunlight and planting should take placein moist, shallow soils.
Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve
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