Species: Ansellia africana
Habenaria caffra (Habenaria falcicornis caffra)
The first orchid that I found was Habenaria caffra. That evening when I downloaded the pictures I decided to go back the next morning to get better pictures. The next morning I set out on my mission only to find that the flowers had been eaten during the night by one of the many game species on the farm.
Since then I have scrutinized the area every year in that time frame but have never found it again in that exact spot. I had to wait a few years to see another one and also haven’t found it again on the same spot.
I have found for a third time last year and have often visited the site, but so far nothing.
In 2009 my husband found Eulophia streptopetala in bloom while clearing Lantana camara. Knowing that I have seen the plants since we bought the property in 2003 but never seen the flowers, I set out to confirm for myself. I have confirmed the plant in three different localities, and in each locality the plant is growing in the shade underneath dense bush.
Sometimes you have to look up also! My eyes are usually on the ground searching for specimens, and it was my husband who spotted this splendid orchid in a tree. The first time he found it, it only had a few flowers left and I couldn’t photograph it. I had to wait for the next season… Ansellia africana is an epiphyte and has fragrant flowers. It flowers every season during early spring and the flowers stays for quite a while on the plant. I had to climb into the tree and very peculiarly balance myself to take the close-up pictures. This one grows in a shady dense bush.
In January 2010 I found the fourth species, Habenaria epipactidea. The unsuccessful search for Habenaria epipactidea in the spots where I found them didn’t deter me from looking for Habenaria epipactidea. I was very happy to find it in bloom again in February 2012 in the original spot. My happiness was extended when I found that there are now two plants in that spot.
Over the years I have learnt that you have to be in the right spot on the right time to see some flower species… I hope to be in the right spot for many more species waiting to be found.
Update on 12 Oct 2014 – It is with great sadness that I have to tell that the Ansellia africana plant has been poached off 0ur property.