African Plant Database

Ansellia africana Lindl.
Protologue : Edward's Bot. Reg. 30: sub t. 12 (1844)
Information on the genus : Ansellia
Status for SA : accepted (present)
Status for TA : accepted (present)
Synonym(s) Heterotypic
=Ansellia africana var. australis Summerh.
=Ansellia gigantea Rchb. f.
=Ansellia gigantea Rchb. f. var. gigantea
=Ansellia africana var. nilotica Baker
=Ansellia gigantea var. nilotica (Baker) Summerh.
=Ansellia nilotica (Baker) N.E. Br. (1886)
=Ansellia confusa N.E. Br. (1886)
=Ansellia congoensis Rodigas (1886)
=Ansellia humilis Bull. (1891)
=Cymbidium sandersonii Harv.
Ecology and distribution
Trop. Afr.
Biology : Epiphytic, sometimes lithophytic or terrestrial herb, “succulent”, 0,5-1,2 m tall, often forming large clumps; roots ascending, needle-like, white, vertical, forming a basket at base of plant; pseudobulbs arising from a basal rhizome, cane-like, i.e. long, narrowly cylindrical, 10-60 cm long, 1-3 cm Ø, several-noded, ridged when older, covered by papery leaf sheaths; leaves 8-10, strap-shaped to elliptic-oblanceolate, 15-50x1,4-6,5 cm, plicate, leathery, in apical part of pseudobulbs, veins prominent; inflorescences axillary at top of pseudobulbs, 20-40-80 cm long, branched, lax, 30-50-flowered; flowers 2-5 cm Ø, showy, yellow or greenish, concolorous (A. gigantea var. gigantea) or variously dotted or marked with brown, maroon or red, long-lasting; pedicel and ovary 4 cm long, erect, slender; tepals spreading, elliptical, 15-35x4-12 mm, petals broader than sepals; lip broad, without a spur, 11-25x10-20 mm, 3-lobed, front lobe ± orbicular, keels 2.
Ecology : Open forest and (wetter) woodland, wooded savanna, deciduous forest, scrub-forest; dense forest; gallery forest; fringes of inselbergs; in hot dry low-lying areas on Adansonia digitata, Colophospermum mopane; occasionally on rocks in open woodland, or among tree roots; on Hyphaene palms, Ficus, Brachystegia, Parinari, Terminalia, Uapaca, Isoberlinia doka, Balanites aegyptiaca, Burkea africana, Albizia spp.; at base of forest trees; on old dying or dead trees; also on tall isolated trees, on large branches of Borassus; often growing wedged into the fork of a tree; secondary forest undergrowth; in sunny positions or in light shade; 0-2800 m alt.
  Pseudobulbs contain a gum used in E Africa. Flower buds are covered with a sweet honey-like exudation (Burkhill, l.c.). Flowers have a pleasant scent, and “more than 88 compounds were detected…” (Khayota 1999: 424). Pollinators are solitary bee species (Martins, o.c.; Siegel in Orchid Digest 78: 157-158, 2014, with photo. flower, with description of foraging ants).
  Bioko/Fernando Poo, S. Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, N Namibia-Caprivi Strip.
  A very handsome plant, easily cultivated: “grows best in a basket, needs good light to flower and plenty of water while growing”. The plant “has become popular with the local people as well as tourists, which has encouraged its indiscriminate commercial collection from the wild”. Clumps were being sold for high prices (Pridgeon in Hágsater & Dumont, o.c.: 99). A list of the “very best” cultivars is given by Hendriks (1998: 6), who also enumerates the characters of divers varieties (cf. also Piers 1968: 151-164). See also Short, l.c.
South. Afr.
Biol./Eco : perennial-Herb, Epiphyte, Succulent- Ht 0.15 - 1 m. Alt: 75 - 1065 m. Distribution: BOT, NAM, KN, LP, MP, SWZ

Bibliography for Tropical Africa :
  • (1984). Flora of Tropical East Africa Orchidaceae[2]: 402
  • DARBYSHIRE, I. KORDOFAMI, M. & AL. (2015). The plants of Sudan and South Sudan, An annoted checklist. Kew Publishing : 79

Bibliography for Southern Africa :
  • Fl. Pl. South Africa 4: t.122 (1924).
  • Fl. Pl. South Africa 18: t.703 (1938).
  • Mem. Bot. Surv. South Africa : 550 (1966).
  • Strelitzia 6: 111 (1997).
  • SMITH G.F. , E.J. VAN JAARSVELD & AL. (1997). List of Southern African Succulent Plants. Umdaus Press : 129
  • GERMISHUIZEN G. (1997). Wild flowers of northern South Africa. Fernwood Press : 118
  • Orchids of Southern Africa : 404-405 (1999).
More info on :
see under Jstor_African Plant Initiative
see under Flore d'Afrique Centrale
see under Fgui
see under The International Plant Name Index
see under Flora of Mozambique
see under Orchidées d'Afrique Centrale
see under Flora of Zimbabwe
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Record n°44182 modified 2009-05-27
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