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Gauteng

Orchids in Gauteng

 Wild Orchids of Southern Africa - Is a working group with the aim of promoting knowledge of the indigenous orchids and protecting their habitats by actively engaging with landowners, developers and Nature Conservation officials.

Although many people assume that orchids occur only in tropical areas, South Africa boasts an impressive diversity of orchids. Approximately 56 species of orchid occur within Gauteng's borders alone - some are extremely common, whereas others have only been recorded a handful of times or only once. The typical habitat of Gauteng's orchids is Bankenveld grassland - a biome that has suffered from uncontrolled development, pollution and public ignorance of its ecological importance. In terms of diversity, Bankenveld grassland is the second most diverse biome in the country after the Cape Floristic Region and as such deserves to be protected and appreciated.

 Gauteng Grassland Smaller

The orchids that occur in Gauteng are terrestrial deciduous orchids which means that they grow in a similar manner to bulbs - they are dormant during the dry, cold time of the year and only emerge from the ground when Spring arrives.

Note that this document only contains a summary of the relevant Ordinances, Acts and Regulations and has no legal status. It has been prepared to give a brief overview of the legislation governing the indigenous orchids in Gauteng. For the exact wording refer to the full copy of the Ordinance, Act or Regulation published in the Government Gazette. These documents can be also obtained from the Provincial Administration.

Two more early flowering Eulophias and the only winter flowering orchid

 

In my first article, I dealt with three of the earliest flowering orchids, all Eulophias. In this article, I will cover a further 2 early flowering Eulophias and for the first time, a Bonatea. The Eulophias hereroensis is distinctive due to having 3 erect sepals resembling rabbit ears. The Eulophias streptopetala has pseudobulbs that are partially above the ground (similar to a Cymbidium) and large pleated leaves. The Bonatea porrecta is unique in that it flowers from late in June, when the leaves have already withered. As before, all are terrestrial orchids (grow in the ground).

Eulophia - 3 Gauteng Early Flowering species

 

It is not commonly known that the orchid family is one of the largest on the planet, numbering some 25 000 species of flowering plants. Of these 466 occur in South Africa alone. It does not appear that many people know that there are some 40 orchid species recorded in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria. 

About 90% of all the world's orchids grow as epiphytes (air plants) in trees in the tropical areas where temperatures are warm and constant and the humidity is high.

Three Rare and Endangered Orchid Species from Gauteng

 

This article will feature 3 of the more rare species growing in our area, being the Holothrix randii, with it's distinct spidery appearance, Brachycorythis ovata (4 species from this genus have been recorded historically in Gauteng) and Eulophia cooperi, which is endemic to Gauteng and in to south western Mpumulanga. As with all orchids in Gauteng, these 3 species are terrestrial orchids (grow in the ground).

Gauteng Eulophia species plus a Disa and a Satyrium

Eulophia ovalis, Disa aconitoides, Satyrium cristatum

 

This article will describe the Eulophia ovalis (pink flowers), the distinctive and fairly rare Disa aconitoides and a version of the fairly widespread Satyrium cristatum. There are in fact 4 species each of Disa and Satyrium that have been recorded historically in Gauteng, but those covered in this article are the only species that still appear to be locatable.

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For more information regarding the preservation of South Africa's wild Orchids or if you would like to get involved please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or complete this short form Contact Us and we will contact you.