Albertina Sisulu Orchid

Save Mogale City’s critically endangered Albertina Sisulu Orchid!

A Mogale developer has been given approval to build high density housing on the site of a beautiful, enigmatic and critically endangered Albertina Sisulu Orchid. Mogale residents are outraged.

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If the housing development goes ahead, the indigenous Albertina Sisulu Orchid (Brachycorythis conica subsp. Transvaalensis) will be lost for ever. 

#AlbertinaSisuluOrchid at #Proteadal. @Proteadal

 

Why is this orchid so important?

The Albertina Sisulu orchid was first discovered in Gauteng in 1918, and last observed in 1956. A small colony, less than 120 individuals remaining, was rediscovered in 2007 on the foothills outside Mogale City (Krugersdorp) next to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens.

The Mogale City Local Municipality (in whose region the land falls), had originally proposed the greater area as an Urban Biodiversity Reserve, as the entire ecosystem in which the orchid occurs is listed as a Critically Endangered Eco-system; however, the Municipality has subsequently abandoned these plans in favour of using the land for developing housing projects.

A local community group has challenged the approval to allow housing on such a sensitive environment; they are currently requesting the Gauteng High Court to review this decision, as they would prefer to see the original plan of establishing a reserve implemented.

All indigenous orchids are also protected by law in South Africa and digging any plants out of the wild is illegal, without a permit. Most terrestrial orchids are very sensitive and plants that are dug out invariably die.

More about the Albertina Sisulu Orchid….

The Albertina Sisulu Orchid is a perennial grassland orchid that stands about 300 to 400 mm high when in flower during the latter part of summer on the Highveld. The shiny, bright green, triangular leaves are short and broad, tapering to a pointed tip and are arranged spirally all the way up the stem where they become progressively smaller towards the inflorescence. 

Among the inflorescence, the leaves are reduced to pointed narrow bracts amongst the flowers. The sweetly scented flowers are produced in late summer and are arranged in a spike on the upper part of the plant. Individual flowers are white with a pale to dark pink or mauve lip (modified petal). The lip is also variously spotted and marked with darker pink to mauve markings.

This species occurs in a fire climax grassland habitat, as such it has the ability to remain underground in a dormant state for the dry winter months when the chances of fire are highest. It resprouts from small finger-like tubers in spring when the wet season begins. Flowering takes place in late summer.

This orchid is very rare and currently only known from one remaining locality in western Gauteng. The species is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) on the Red List of South African plants. 

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.