<> Orchid News # 20



Keywords; Orchidaceae, Sophronitis, Sophronitis alagoensis, Sophronitis cernua, Alagoas, Brazil.

A new species of Sophronitis Lindley, from the northeastern Brazil (Alagoas), is described.

In October 2002, we found, among a collection of orchids, a small population of Sophronitis, looking like Sophronitis cernua. The morphological differences, which we will approach later, are enough to treat this population as a distinct taxonomic entity. Besides, the blooming seasons are very different: April-June for Sophronitis cernua, September-November for those plants, which avoid the inter-fecundation of the two entities, as a result, we would rather treat as separate species.

Foto/Photo: G. Chiron

Sophronitis alagoensis V. P. Castro & Chiron, III (2) April 2003 – Richardiana


Sophronitis cernua Lindley similis est, sed magnitudine duplo minore, foliis rotundatioribus, floris valde minoribus, minus apertis, petalis sepalis latioribus, labello trilobato cum lobo medio ½ longo, callo columnaque longioribus differt.


The name refers to Alagoas, Brazilian state of the plant-type origin.

At first sight, the plants of Sophronitis alagoensis induces to think about small Sophronitis cernua Lindley. However, a more detailed study, did with ten specimens population, showed that this population was very homogenous, on the other hand, exhibited many differences which are discussed bellow.

G. Chiron
Comparison between Sophronitis cernua and
Sophronitis alagoensis

  The size of the plants is, at about, twice smaller than Sophronitis cernua and the size of the flowers is, at least, 50% smaller. The leaves are, clearly, rounder: the relation width/length is, at about, 0,8 instead of 0,6 as in Sophronitis cernua. The petals are clearly wider than the sepals (at about 1,6 times more), while in Sophronitis cernua, petals and sepals are “sub-equal”. The lip is clearly tri-lobed and a little more longer than this one of Sophronitis cernua. The yellow part of the lip is more flattened. The callus and column are, keeping the right proportions, much longer: the relation callus length and lip length is 0,45-0,5 (instead of 0,3) and the relation column length and lip length is 0,7 (instead of 0,4-0,45).

Brazil – Alagoas, collected by Erwin Bohnk, in December 1999, 20 Km from the seashore, in Maceió direction, at 150m altitude, in the oriental versant of the hills, it bloomed, regularly, in cultivation in October-November (Holotype- SP).

Herb epiphytic on shrubs in open wood, caespitose. Roots relatively thick (at about 1,5 mm diameter); pseudobulbs ovoid, ancipital, at about 8-13 x 5-9 mm, green reddish, with two inter-nodes, slightly longitudinal wrinkled, unifoliate at the apex, clothed by parchment-like 3-4 sheaths, green yellowish at
  Foto/Photo: G. Chiron the beginning, quickly dried; leaf considerably oval to sub-circular, thick, coriaceous, green, slightly purple colored, mainly all along the medium veined and the margins, 11-18 mm x 6-15 mm; inflorescence in raceme with 2-4 flowers, very short reddish peduncle; small flower, at about 1 cm diameter, scarlet red; ovary pedicel 12-18 mm long, swollen, reddish; oblanceolate sepals, acute, slightly apiculate, dorsal sepal with 8-9 mm long and 3,6-3,7 mm wide; petals ovo-rhomboid, acute, the superior margins are slightly undulated, 8-10 mm long and 5,5-5,8 mm wide; Trilobed lip, yellow at the base, the disc and the base of the lateral lobes, scarlet red in the medium lob and at the margins of the lateral lobes, 7,0-7,5 mm long, 5,2-5,6 mm wide when flattened, round lateral lobes, 3 mm long, 1 mm wide, curved towards the top and enclosing the column, triangular medium lobe, round, acute apex, length and width 2,5-3,0 mm; callus at the base of the lip, 3,1-3,4 mm long and formed by a transversal, undulated, thick, fleshy crest of 1,3 mm height and two longitudinal, thin, flexible, and slightly pendant crests, placed at each side of the narrow medium carinae;
  sub-right column, thick, pink, semicircular section, flanked at the apex by two round thick, dark purple wings; pointed anther, white greyish; stigmatic cavity larger than longer, pollinia, 8, yellow, 0,8 mm long. See figure 1.

  G. Chiron
Fig. 1
Sophronitis alagoensis
V.P.Castro Neto & Chiron

A - plant

B - flower

C - dorsal sepal

D - lateral sepal

E - petal

F - lip
      (F1 - profile view, in natural position, with the       column;
      F2 - front view, flattened;
      F3 - longitudinal incision  showing the callus;
      F4 - apex, with the anther)

G - column, anther with drawn
     (G1 - 3/4 view with the pedicel-ovary
      G2 - face view)

Alagoas. Humid climate. Blooming season from October to November. Out of the plant-type site, Erwin Bohnk found other plants in the same region, at 840m altitude, approximately.

Map/Mapa: Sergio Araujo

  Drawings and photographies: G. Chiron
Map and digital manipulation: Sergio Araujo

Foto/Photo: G. Chiron

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