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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 1/18/2013)
 

Flora Data (Last Modified On 1/18/2013)
Species PERISTERIA ELATA Hook
PlaceOfPublication Bot. Mag. t. 3116. 1831.
Description Erect, stately, terrestrial herbs. Pseudobulbs stout, fleshy, broadly ovoid, subconic or subcylindric, 4-12 cm. long and 4-8 cm. wide, the bases enveloped in several closely imbricating papery bracts, the upper 1-2 of which are foliaceous, the apex of the pseudobulb with 3-5 broadly lanceolate, plicate, acuminate, deciduous leaves 3-10 dm. long and 6-12 cm. wide; the old pseudobulbs often wrinkled, the brown, papery, imbricating, unarmed bases of the fallen leaves persistent and enveloping the apex. Inflorescences tall, solitary, erect, unbranched racemes 8-13 dm. long, produced simultaneously beside the new growth at the base of the pseudobulbs and developing concurrently with it, actual flowering being delayed until the pseudobulb has matured but before the leaves have fallen. Flowers 10-15 or more, relatively large and conspicuous, fleshy, subglobose, waxy white, strongly fragrant, opening in succession from the lowest upward, 2-4 on the raceme open at one time, relatively widely spaced, with long (about 4 cm.) pedicels, usually subtended on the scape by several to many of the developing seed capsules; the unopened buds above the flowers progressively more crowded toward the apex of the scape. Sepals subequal, fleshy, waxy white, broadly concave, the dorsal sepal free, ovate, obtuse, 2.5-3 cm. long and 2-2.5 cm. broad, laterals somewhat connate at the base, ovate or suborbicular, shortly acute, 2.5-3 cm. long and 2.5-3 cm. wide. Petals elliptic-obovate, obtuse, 20-25 mm. long and 15-18 mm. wide. Lip very fleshy, the claw or hypochile broad, continuous with the base of the column, the lateral margins with ascending wings which are white, heavily spotted rose-red, the inner basal surface thickened into a fleshy lobule; apical lobe of the lip, or epichile, white, articulated with the frontal margin of the hypochile, entire, subquadrate, retuse, nearly truncate, with a central glabrous, fleshy, pure white, ventricose or suborbicular crest. Column short, pure white, subconic, semiterete, 9-11 mm. long. Anther pure white, beaked, superficially resembling the head of a bird.
Distribution Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Specimen PANAMA: hills near Juan Diaz, sea level, Powell 2I3; without definite locality, Pring s. n.; llanos east of Panama City near Rio Tecuimen, 100 ft., Allen 5144; Chorrera llanos, 50 ft., Allen 5145; Cerro Campana, rocky outcrops, 2000 ft., Allen 5071. coLON: Cerro Santa Rita, in grass along roads, 1200 ft., Dorothy Allen 5138. cocLE: El Valle de Anton, 1800 ft., Allen 5072.
Note This handsome species is the famous "Holy Ghost" or "Dove Orchid," the national flower of the Republic of Panama. The popular names are suggested by the form of the column, its beaked anther and the lateral winged lobes of the basal claw combining to produce within the waxy white flower a figure resembling that of a dove. The plants are found at low to medium elevations in shaded situ- ations on the margins of grasslands and on rocky outcrops in forest, having been in former times very plentiful in the Canal Zone area. Commercial collecting has now made this an increasingly infrequent plant of the more inaccessible parts of the interior.
 
 
 
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