Leopard Orchid…

Have been looking closely at a Leopard Orchid (Ansellia africana) to see what kinds of ants visit and potentially tend the buds and flowers. This species of orchid is found along the coast and in the Rift Valley as well as in the western forests of our region. It is a very pretty plant – as you can see from the flowers, the name “Leopard Orchid” is very apt! It is a very variable species. This one is from near Lake Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley:ansellia-nakuru-lr1.jpg And this one is from the Kerio Valley:ansellia-kerio-lr1.jpg There’s even a rare, beautiful heavy-spotted form from the rainforest called the “Black Leopard Orchid”. Here’s a sketch I made of it some years ago:ansellia-black-lr1.jpgansellia-black-lr2.jpgThe flowers of the Leopard Orchid are interesting in that they don’t produce any nectar – just a pleasant lemony scent – and so con bees into pollinating them. However, the buds do secrete nectar droplets before they open and these attract ants…ansellia-buds-lr.jpgYet another mystery that needs to be solved! More soon – thanks for your comments…

3 thoughts on “Leopard Orchid…”

  1. Hi Dino,
    Once again it is amazing the way you describe the not-so-common biodiversity. I enjoy your posts so much. Its a free lesson in natural history (especially now that i spend most of my time behind a laptop). Its great to see that your beautiful and accurate illustrations are finally showing up here. I was wondering when they would… Keep posting. Your educative posts are very important.


  2. I would love to know more about them. How do you know if you need to water them, and do they need more watering if in flowering stage? A close friend gave me one of these as a gift last week, and the first flower has starting to open…. I would like to keep my new plant friend happy and growing for next season again. Any important tips?


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