Disa ornithantha Schltr.

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Disa ornithantha

Photo: Bart Wursten
Road between Dam 2 and dam 3, Nyika National Park

Disa ornithantha

Photo: Bart Wursten
Road between Dam 2 and dam 3, Nyika National Park

Disa ornithantha

Photo: Bart Wursten
Road between Dam 2 and dam 3, Nyika National Park

Disa ornithantha

Photo: Bart Wursten
Road between Dam 2 and dam 3, Nyika National Park

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names:
Status: Native
Terrestrial herb, up to 50 cm tall. Leaves on a separate shoot, 3-4, erect, linear, up to 20 cm long, folded along the length. Leaves along the fertile shoot, ovate-lanceolate, 4-7 cm long, sheathing. Inflorescence 1-5-flowered with long linear bracts overtopping the flowers. Flowers bright red, spotted on the petals and inside of the dorsal sepal, large and showy. Dorsal sepal erect, spathulate, c. 28 mm long with a pendent spur, 9 mm long, slightly swollen at the apex. Lateral sepals spreading, 17-23 mm long. Petals 2-lobed, posterior lobe diverging with a S-shaped curve. Lip linear, 9-14 mm long.
Notes: Similar to Disa erubescens which is a taller species with larger flowers, the spur is more ascending from the dorsal sepal and flowers are more orange-red than brighr red.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: In Brachystegia woodland and montane grassland, usually in wet grassy areas.
Altitude range: 1000 - 2300 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Angola, DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Malawi distribution: N,S
Growth form(s): Terrestrial.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Thursday 28 March 2019

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 222 - 223. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 321.

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 22.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 128.

Fibeck, W. & Dare, M. (1993). Terrestrial Orchids in Zimbabwe. Excelsa 16 Page 56.

Grosvenor, R.K. (1976). A list of orchids indigenous in Rhodesia. Excelsa 6 Page 80.

La Croix, I. & Cribb, P.J. (1995). Orchidaceae (Part 1) Flora Zambesiaca 11(1) Page 171.

La Croix, I. et al. (1991). Orchids of Malawi A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam Pages 118 - 119. Frontcover photo (Includes a picture).

Linder, H.P. (1981). Taxonomic studies in the Disinae (Orchidaceae): IV A revision of Disa Berg. sect. Micranthae Lindl. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 51(3/4) Pages 330 - 333. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 95.

Moriarty, A. (1975). Wild Flowers of Malawi Purnell & sons Cape Town. Pages 47 - 48. (Includes a picture).

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 119.

Williamson, G. (1977). The Orchids of South Central Africa J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London. Page 79. (Includes a picture).

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 84.

Other sources of information about Disa ornithantha:

Our websites:

Flora of Mozambique: Disa ornithantha
Flora of Zambia: Disa ornithantha
Flora of Zimbabwe: Disa ornithantha

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Disa ornithantha
African Plant Database: Disa ornithantha
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Disa ornithantha
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Disa ornithantha
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Disa ornithantha
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Disa ornithantha
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Disa ornithantha
JSTOR Plant Science: Disa ornithantha
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Disa ornithantha
Plants of the World Online: Disa ornithantha
Tropicos: Disa ornithantha
Wikipedia: Disa ornithantha

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Malawi: Species information: Disa ornithantha.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=117370, retrieved 17 April 2024

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