Polystachya cultriformis (Thouars) Spreng.

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Polystachya cultriformis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Castle Beacon, Vumba

Polystachya cultriformis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Castle Beacon, Vumba

Polystachya cultriformis

Photo: Bart Wursten
John Meikle Forestry Estate, Stapleford

Polystachya cultriformis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Castle Beacon, Vumba

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

Synonyms: Polystachya gerrardii Harv.
Common names:
Status: Native
Epiphyte or lithophyte. The fairly long and narrowly conical pseudobulbs are nearly covered by membranous sheaths. Each pseudobulb has only one apical leaf, elliptic or slightly ovate with undulate margins. The inflorescence is usually arching or pendulous and may be branched, with up to flowers. Flowers mostly white, occasionally tinged with pink. Lip with a yellowish callus.
Derivation of specific name: cultriformis: shaped like a knife-blade
Habitat: In deep shade in (sub)montane evergreen forest.
Altitude range: 1000 - 2000 m
Flowering time:Nov - Jan
Worldwide distribution: Widespread in Tropical Africa and South Africa. Also in Madagascar, Comoros, Mascarene Islands, and Seychelles.
Malawi distribution: N,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Ball, J.S. (1978). Southern African Epiphytic Orchids. Conservation Press, Johannesburg. Pages 156 - 157. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 45.

Cribb, P.J. (1984). Orchidaceae (Part 2) Flora of Tropical East Africa Pages 341 - 342.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (1989). The flora and phytogeography of the evergreen forests of Malawi. I: Afromontane and mid-altitude forests; Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2) Page 27.

Grosvenor, R.K. (1976). A list of orchids indigenous in Rhodesia. Excelsa 6 Page 85.

Kimberley, M.J. (2003). A List of Epiphytic Orchids of Zimbabwe Excelsa 20 Page 50.

La Croix, I. & Cribb, P.J. (1998). Orchidaceae (Part 2) Flora Zambesiaca 11(2) Pages 356 - 358.

La Croix, I. et al. (1983). Malawi Orchids Volume 1 Epiphytic Orchids National Fauna Preservation Society of Malawi Pages 105 - 106. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. et al. (1991). Orchids of Malawi A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam Pages 209 - 210. (Includes a picture).

Linder, H.P. & Kurzweil, H. (1999). Orchids of Southern Africa A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands ISBN 90-5410-445-7 Pages 408 - 409. (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 97.

McMurtry, D., Grobler, L., Grobler, J. & Burns, S. (2008). Field Guide to the ORCHIDS of Northern South Africa and Swaziland Umdaus Press, PO Box 11059 Hatfield 0028 South Africa Pages 394 - 395. (Includes a picture).

Morris, B. (1970). Epiphytic Orchids of Malawi The Society of Malawi Pages 74 - 75.

Mytnik-Ejsmont, J. (2011). A Monograph of the Subtribe Polystachyinae Schltr. (Orchidaceae) University of Gdansk, Poland, ISBN 978 83 7531 174 4 Pages 285 - 290. (Includes a picture).

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 123.

Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1976). A Provisional Checklist of the Orchidaceae of Mozambique South African Journal of Botany 42(4) Page 391.

Stewart, J. & Campbell, B. (1996). Orchids of Kenya Timber Press Inc, Portland Oregon, USA ISBN0-88192-357-5 Pages 64 - 65. (Includes a picture).

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 139.

Williamson, G. (1977). The Orchids of South Central Africa J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London. Pages 125 - 126. (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 Polystachya cultriformis:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Polystachya cultriformis
Flora of Mozambique: Polystachya cultriformis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Polystachya cultriformis

External websites:

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

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: Polystachya cultriformis.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=118310, retrieved 1 March 2024

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