Mediocalcar decoratum

Mediocalcar decoratum Schuit., Blumea 34 (1989) 167, fig. 1

Type: Morrison 1609 (holo K, spirit material)

Roots densely covered with root hairs, 0.5 mm thick. Rhizome creeping, freely branching, mat-forming, 1 mm thick. Cataphylls 3-5, transparent, subacute, keeled. Pseudobulbs almost entirely enveloping the rhizome, 1-5 mm apart, cylindrical to slightly clavate, glabrous, (5-)10-15(-20) mm long, 3-6 mm across. Leaves usually four, frequently three, occasionally two, five, or six per pseudobulb, very shortly petiolate, spreading in one plane; convex on both sides; narrowly elliptic (index 3.5-6), (7-)10-18(-23) mm by 2-4 mm; margins entire; apex obtuse to subacute, rarely acute, obscurely bilobulate, minutely mucronate, with the mucro about as long as the lobules; carnose. Inflorescences solitary, heteranthous or infrequently synanthous, at the base with a rudimentary scale. Peduncle 3-7 mm long, at the apex with a triangular acuminate bract 1.5 mm long. Pedicel and ovary 5-7 mm long. Flowers urceolate-globose, oblique, 5-7 mm long. Synsepalum 6.5-8.5 mm long and 12-16 mm wide when cut open and flattened; free tips patent or reflexed, 2.5-3.5 mm long, acute to subacute; all sepals conspicuously gibbose. Petals linear-elliptic (index 5.5-7), 5.5-7 mm by 1 mm.; apex acute, 1-nerved. Lip 5-7 mm by 3 mm in natural position, the blade broadly ovate when flattened; claw 1 by 2 mm, auricles inconspicuous; apex acute, reflexed; margins erect, clasping the column; spur saccate, recurved, parallel to the column, 3 mm long, 3 mm wide just below the mouth. Column broadly clavate, 3 mm long, 2 mm wide at the apex, foot very short. Fruit cylindrical to subclavate, 10 by 3 mm. (After Schuiteman, 1997)

Colours: Flower bright orange to orange-red with golden yellow tips to the sepals, petals and lip; rarely red with green tips, orange with white tips, or entirely orange or yellow. Enclosed parts of petals and lip cream colour or pale orange. Column cream colour. Pollinia white. Peduncle and ovary brownish red. Leaves bright green to dull green above, pale green below, often tinged purple when growing in strong light. Pseudobulbs yellowish green or purplish.

Habitat: Epiphyte on tree trunks in montane forest; 900-2500(-3200?) m.

Flowering time in the wild: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, December.

Distribution: Malesia (New Guinea, endemic).

Distribution in New Guinea: Papua (Indonesia); Papua New Guinea. See map: 436-21M.JPG.

Cultivation: Cool growing epiphyte, requires rather shaded position. Notwithstanding its succulent appearance this species is intolerant of drought, like all Mediocalcar species.

Notes: A small, mat-forming epiphyte, common in amateur collections worldwide, sometimes wrongly named as Mediocalcar pygmaeum. Mediocalcar decoratum is easily recognised by the small fat cylindrical pseudobulbs, each with three or four rather succulent, narrow leaves spreading in one plane like a cross. The first to collect this most distinctive and attractive species was probably C. E. Carr in 1935. Had he not died soon afterwards he would undoubtedly have described it himself. The only similar and obviously closely related species is Mediocalcar umboiense.