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ANSELLIA africana

Image of Ansellia africana

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Orchidaceae

Botanical Name

ANSELLIA africana

Plant Common Name

African Ansellia, Leopard Orchid

General Description

A magnificent large orchid with spotted flowers in late spring and summer, leopard orchid also has a white root mass that forms a bucket-like clump that naturally vegetates treetops. A cold-tender evergreen from the drier forests across all of tropical sub-Saharan Africa, from the coastal plains to interior highlands, it is varies widely in flower color.

The giant plant produces many cane-like noded pseudobulbs that carry six to seven strap-like green leaves. From late spring to summer, each pseudobulb sends up a large, multi-branched flower stem with scores of starry blossoms ranging in color from pale yellow without spots to golden with brown spots or sienna-brown with light spots. These flowers are pollinated by hawk moths at night. Root and pseudobulb growth increases in the summer rainy season and slows to a full dormancy in winter. Dormancy allows pseudobulbs to harden off and initiate the next season's flowers.

Grow leopard orchid in nearly full sun to dappled partial sun mounted to a tree or palm or in a spacious reinforced wooden or wire basket filled with coarse bark. Do not grow it in soil. Water freely in summertime and allow the plant to drain quickly and dry before the next deluge. Dilute solutions of fertilizer can be showered on the plant when it's actively growing. If mounted on a tree, it can take upward of two years for roots to adequately fuse to the bark and support the plant's weight. Consider wedging this large plant in a branch crotch for added stability. Allow it to become much drier through winter. It is tolerant of light frost.

Use this orchid as a specimen clump for an outdoor tree or sturdy patio basket that is hung or supported in a heavy decorative pot. The flower stems can be cut and used as a floral filler or massed vase bouquet. The blooms are increasingly fragrant as the night progresses.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 14

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Epiphyte

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    2'-5' / 0.6m - 1.5m

  • Width

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Africa, Middle Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Light Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Gold, Bronze, Brown, Sienna

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No