Description of Species     

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Sophronitis species in my greenhouse     Dec. 21, 2002

1. Sophronitis coccinea (Lindley) Reichenbach f. 1861. コクシネア.         
         Synonym(シノニム)  Sophronitis grandiflora Lindley 1837          
             Trip to the Habitat of Sophronitis coccinea in Brasil

       To collect Sophronitis coccinea of the large flower, one Japanese         orchid grower, Mr. Jiro Miura, did a difficult climbing mountain from Ubatuba located in Santos's northwest about 150Km to the coast mountainous district of above sea level 1,000m.  He found red Sophronitis coccinea of the large flower in the place. The plants are growing on the dense carpeting of moss covering the tree trunks. It is written in his book as follows (Ref. 6). This zone is thought to be natural habitat of Sophronitis coccinea which makes the chromosome a multiple. It is encompassed from the afternoon to next morning in the dense fog. The repetition of this weather is a condition of the natural habitat of Sophronitis coccinea
   Miura has made some specialty of using fine clone for  sib crosses. The clone, 'Small World X'  (exhibitor : Jiro Miura) , were gold medal winner at the 11th World Orchid Conference in Miami in 1984. The clone, 'Halley's Comet' (exhibitor : Kiyoaki Tatsuka) also were gold medal winner at the 12th  World Orchid Conference in Tokyo (Japan) in 1987. The clone, 'Neon Light' (exhibitor : Fordyce Orchids) were FCC/AOS (90 points) in 1992.  
      The flask seeding of 'Halley's Comet' was bought from Jiro Miura. The seedling is sib cross (S. coccinea 'SEXTUOR' X S. coccinea 'Dom'). The colchicine treatment was applied on the seedling. (private communication). 

Sophronitis coccinea 'Small World X' GM/11WOC 1984 Jiro Miura Award


Sophronitis coccinea 'Halley's Comet' GM/12WOC 1987 Kiyoaki Tatsuka Award

Sophronitis coccinea 'Neon Light' FCC/AOS  1992       Masatoshi Miyamoto Award  


Sophronitis coccinea var. barboleta  

Sophronitis coccinea var. xanthochila 

Sophronitis coccinea (Wild Plant)

Sophronitis coccinea 'Yellow Smile' x self

Sophronitis coccinea (Sibcross)

Sophronitis coccinea (Sibcross)

         The identifying characteristics of the Sophronitis coccinea plants are their cylindrical rather than spherical pseudobulbs and their upright, rather narrow leaves, which have a red stripe down the midrib and usually a red margin around the edge. Single flower, rarely two, are produced in November - April in Japan.
     Three "ecotypes" have been described. These are names applied to plants differing from each other in the habitat, a consequence of their position in the forest.  These name do help interpret the complicated and variable Sophronitis coccinea species population.  
       Sophronitis coccinea (ecotype militaris)     
     The pseudobulbs of this ecotype are as thin as pencil leads, the one standing next to the other like a row of soldiers, hence the name. Plant retain this growth habit when removed to artificial cultivation. In nature they like very dark forests, low down in the trees, the peduncles so short the flowers appear to simple sit right on the narrow, long leaves. 
       Sophronitis coccinea (ecotype coccinea)
    The leaves are shorter and broader, the pseudobulbs more plumped out and they grow in normally bright positions in average forests. There is  a prominent purple mid rib evident on the center and running down the leaf. 
       Sophronitis coccinea (ecotype insolaris)
     This is the rarest of the three ecotypes. It prefers the little branchlets that reach up to the sunlight in the tallest trees in the center of the woods or sometimes around the edges of the gulch on trees which get more light. the longitudinal stripe of the leaf is marked and in addition the leaf border is margined purple, the leaves shorter and lighter green, the pseudobulbs more egg-shaped. The flowers considered to be brighter red. This ecotype is possible the group that has produced most of the tetraploid forms.  
      The horticultural color varieties of Sophronitis coccinea are given below.
       var. carmesa Hort.         carmine red
       var. barboleta Hort         peach with red stripe, rare
       var. discolor Hort.         brick red with darker red veine and entirely 
                                              yellow lip, rare           
       var. gigantiea Hort.         tetraploid, rare
       var. labelloide Hort.         petals change in to lip
       var. lobbii Hort.                entirely yellow, rarest                 
       var. pallens Hort.             light brick red
       var. rossiteriana Hort.     egg yolk yellow, rare
       var. striata Hort.              red with darker red veine
       var. xanthochila Hort.    yellow lip

2. Sophronitis bicolor  Miranda. 1991. Die Orchidee 42(5): 227-230                              
     Carl L. Withner, Phd has stated as follows in his work (Ref.2). "The several varieties that have been allotted to S. coccinea are so numerous that the taxon has become a sort of wastebasket species for all that was not known."  
        The plant was discovered in the orchid nursery in Rio de Janeiro. And it was reported as a new species in 1991. The large sized plants called var. tetraploidea or gigantea that were presumably tetraploid clones. There is the appropriate feature also in a form and a flower. A leaf is as long as 15cm.
     Jiro Miura climbed the Coast Ranges from town Ubatuba of the seashore, and he arrived at the altitude point of 1,000m of an Organ mountain. Sophronitis coccinea  which has made the crimson red of a large flower also with large pseudobulb and leaf was found at the point. It is said that this zone is considered to be the spontaneous generation ground of Sophronitis coccinea which the chromosome multiplied (Ref. 6).

Sophronitis bicolor (Ref. 2)

Sophronitis bicolor (Ref. 2)

3. Sophronitis pygmaea (Pabst) Withner.                     
(Basionym: Sophronitis coccinea subsp. Pygmaea Pabst. 1976)

     S. pygmaea is the smallest species in the genus. The species discovered in the coastal mountains of Espirito Santo. Flower structure is the same as that of S. coccinea , only smaller. Ghillany described as follows. According to my opinion, the differences in flower details, appearance, shape or habit are not sufficient enough to consider them as separate species Ref. 5). Withner is raising it to species status. Flower borne in Japan in August-September.  

Sophronitis  pygmaea  (2000.9 開花)

Sophronitis pygmaea 'Hikumo' HCC, CCM/JOS          (2000.9 開花)

4. Sophronitis mantiqueirae  Fowlie. 1972.                             
  Sophronitis coccinea  Subsp. mantiqueirae Fowlie. 1968.
    Sophronitis coccinea  var. parviflora Hort. 1972.

 The plants of Sophronitis mantiqueirae are smaller and have smaller flowers than those of S. coccinea. The leaves lack the red midrib and marginal red pigmentation. The leaves beneath provided with tiny purplish anthocyanin spots, not present in S. coccinea, and they are oval in shape and curved. The plants flower in the Brazilian summer month (January and February) and have a separate habitat area at 1200 to 1890m in the Serra de Mantiqueira. They are easy to distinguish there during January and February, as none of the other species are ordinarily blooming then. They grow on small saplings which are usually moss-shrouded or lichen encrusted.  

Sophronitis mantiqueirae. Orquidario Binot Nursery, Brazil (Ref. 2

Sophronitis mantiqueirae      

Sophronitis mantiqueirae Fowl. 標高1,700m (Ref.1)

Sophronitis mantiqueirae Fowl. 標高1,500m (Ref. 1) 


5. Sophronitis acuensis    Fowlie. 1975. Orchid Digest 39(3):147-151                               

   The plants of Sophronitis acuensis were first noted in the greenhouses of Orquidario Binot. A local collector had brought them from the Organ Mountains. Guided by the collector, J. A. Fowlie was able to collect plants of this new entity after a climb to 2100m. At that altitude they grew on small creek side trees in the ravines that extended down the mountain for 200-300m. The habitat is higher and colder than for other species in the genus.
        It is not hard to recognize Sophronitis acuensis plant from their vegetative characteristics , even though the flowers have a typical Sophronitis shape. Fowlie describes the color of the flowers in nature as a livid deep red but says they become orange-red once in cultivation.

Sophronitis acuensis Fowl. 
Organ Mountains in Brazil 6,400 feet elevation.    (Ref.1)

Sophronitis acuensis var.xanthocheila   Hort. Very rarely the high elevation species.(Ref.1)

Sophronitis acuensis (Ref.2)

6. Sophronitis brevipedunculata (Cogniaux) Fowlie. 1972.        Synonym                          
     Sophronitis wittigiana
var. brevipedunculata Cogniaux   1898-1902.

     It typically produces a regular double row of pseudobulbs with ovate green leaves.  This type of growth habit is seen only in two other forms of Sophronitis cernua and Sophronitis wittigiana.
The flowers tend to have a salmony tone of reddish coloration quite unlike colors evidenced in S. coccinea. The plants usually grow on Vellozia bushes−an unusual host plant that grows in drier, cool mountain habitats at the 1500-2000 m level. Some of the orchids may also grow directly upon the rocks. In nature they exist mostly on condensation from air currents and the cloud caps that form over the high mountains during the late afternoon and night, not from seasonal rains.
The unique plant, Vellozia is closely related to the amaryllis or lily family.
Please see the following site in Sato's TOKYO WALKE-CLUB  about the situation of the natural habitat.  

Vellozia and 
Sophronitis brevipedunculata 
(Ref. 4  Fig 28)

Vellozia sincorana          (Bahia State of Brazil)

Sophronitis brevipedunculata 
 Date of Flowering: 
Dec. 6, 2002

7. Sophronitis wittigiana Barb. Rodrigues.1878.       
  Sophronitis rosea Hort. ex Gastling. 1884.

     There are some confusion in the classification of the species. It is an opinion that S. 
and S. wittigiana are different forms of pink-flowered sophronitis belonging to two different species. The pseudobulbs has a double row formation that is distinctive. The double formation shares with S. wittigiana and S. brevipedunculata. The habitat of this species in the state of Espirito Santo .It occurs at about 1100-1400 m elevation. During seasonal drier spells the swamps keep up the humidity around the plants. An almost pure white form of this species was found near Pedra Azul in Minas Gerais.

Sophronitis wittigiana

Sophronitis wittigiana 'Lindsay' AM/AOS (Ref. 3

Sophronitis wittigiana 'Hikumo 1' AM/JOS


8. Sophronitis cernua  Lindley.  1827.    セルヌア                                            

     The pseudobulbs and leaves are double row formation, and grow almost flat against the surface of the trunk or rock.  It is the least demanding of coolness and humidity and grows under the widest range of conditions. The species is found elsewhere in the sea coast region of Rio de Janeiro extending to inland mountains of Sao Paulo State, also in low mountain from Paraguay and Bolivia to the northern Minas Gerais. It has a great variation in plant forms and flower coloration because of its diverse ecological environments. 
      Horticultural varieties are var. lowii (lemon yellow), var. mineira (light cinnabar red) and  var. endsfeldzii  (egg yolk yellow).

Sophronitis cernua        Date of Flowering: Nov., 2001

Sophronitis cernua var. aurea  
Date of Flowering: 
Nov. 22, 2002


9. Sophronitis pterocarpa Lindley. 1853. プテロカルパ                    

   The designation of Sophronitis pterocarpa has been somewhat of a mystery for a long time. In his writings Fowlie "excludes" the S. pterocarpa concept from Sophronitis (Ref.1). Afterwards, It was reconfirmed that S. pterocarpa was a species of the Sophronitis (Ref. 2) by Withner.  The flower is just like the S. cernua, but the ovary is swollen and winged compared to the typical S. cernua flower. The only living one of this type have be seen among  dozens of S. cernua clones. The species has been found over the same area as S. cernua
     Recently, the doubt is presented for the classification of S. pterocarpa. Francisco Mirnda is written in his article as follows. Throughout the distribution range of the species, the degree of wing-cresting of the ovary varies and thus it would be difficult to find a point where the species could be separated.(Ref.20) 

Sophronitis pterocarpa    (Ref. 2)

Sophronitis pterocarpa Lindley 1853  (Ref. 2)

10. Sophronitis alagoensis  V.P. Castro Neto and G. R. Chiron  2003   (文献. 28)  Ref.WEB SITE
      The plant was discovered in Alagoas state in Brazil in October, 2002.  The smaller flowers of S. alagoensis are remarkable for their truly scarlet color without the orange tones found in S. cernua. The flowers of S. alagoensis bloom in September - November. The flowering of S .cernua is April - June.

Sophronitis alagoensis - 9 by Luiz Filipe Varella.

Sophronitis alagoensis


Photograph of Sophronitis Species


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