58201 Aslla. africana 'Tiger Stripes' photo by R. Duker

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Orchid Species: Ansellia africana

Ansellia africana is an orchid species identified by Lindl. in 1844.
Genus
Ansellia (Aslla.)
Grex
africana
(name currently accepted by Kew)
Parents
Species
Author
Lindl.
Year
1844
ORIGIN: Found in Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gulf of Guinea Islands, Rwanda, Zaire, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namimbia, Natal, Swaziland and Transvaal South Africa along dry warm coasts and rivers to elevations of 2200 meters but usually below 700 meters but occasionally as high as 2200 meters.

DESCRIPTION: Highly variable, giant sized, robust species varying in size and flower color, with cane-like, fusiform-cylindrical, many noded, yellow pseudobulbs carrying 6 to 7, narrowly ligulate-lanceolate, acute, plicate leaves. They are delicately scented and appreciate higher light to bloom which is in late spring and summer on a seemingly terminal yet axillary from nodes near the apex, to 32" [to 85 cm] long panicle that is laxly many [10 to 100] flowered and carries fragrant flowers. It is found epiphyticaly in the high canopy of taller trees. They are commonly found in areas that suffer long periods without water but in cultivation they are best kept moist while growing and only a slight drop off in water and fertilizer while not in growth. This plant has dense mats of erect white roots making a trash basket, much like Grammatophyllum, . The Zulu in South Africa herbalists use the pseudobulb to make a tea that is used as an emetic. Also Zulu lore has it that a spurned lover can wear pseudobulbs of this species to prevent the ex-lover from having children. In northern Zimbabwe and Zambia this species leaves and stems are used to make a broth that is a supposed cure for madness. The Pedi tribe of Zimbabwe use this species to make an infusion that curtails coughing in children.

FLOWER SIZE: 2 1/2 inches [6.25 cm] -- information provided by Jay Pfahl, author of the Internet Orchid Species Encyclopedia (IOSPE).
Most awarded/recent cultivars: Aslla. africana var. lutea 'Jewel' (3 awards from 1990 to 1992) Aslla. nilotica 'Natalensis' (1955)

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