Ansellia gigantea

 Updated: 01/27/2010

Ansellia gigantea nilotica or Ansellia africana

With kindly permission Countryside Orchids, Corrales, NM 87048, U.S.A.

This plant was labelled Ansellia gigantea nilotica. Ansellia is now considered to have only one species that is highly variable in size and color, so this would properly be called Ansellia africana. The species is widely distributed in Africa.

Ansellia - genus was described by Lindley in 1844 and named in honour of John Ansell - Botanist at R. H. G. - Chiswick (New South Wales, Australia). Ansellia gigantea was collected by Gueinzius from Port Natal, S. Africa and described by Reichenbach in 1847 [1].

It is found in all of Africa as a varied species in size and color. It is found epiphytically in the high canopy of taller trees. They are commonly found in areas that suffer long periods without water but in cultivation they are best kept moist while growing and only a slight drop off in water and fertilizer while not in growth. They are delicately scented and appreciate higher light to bloom which is in late spring and summer [2].

This is a monotypic genus that is a large epiphyte, or sometimes terrestrial plant that has tall canelike psuedobulbs with 6 to 7 plicate leaves that give rise to a 20" paniculate inflorescence with many flowers. It needs moderate shade and a lessening of water and fertilizer after the bulbs have matured [2].

[1] Bruce Ide and Bob Goebel, The Orchids Resource (01/21/1999) 
[2] Jay's Key West Orchid Species Photo Home Page (02/05/1999) 

© 1999 Hans & Elke Gueinzius D-71229 Leonberg