Notes on blooming of a rare orchid Flickingeria macraei

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K. Pagag, S.K. Singh* & D.K. Roy

Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong –793 003,
*Corresponding author: S.K. Singh, email:


Flowering were observed in the plants of Flickingeria macraei (Lindl.) Seidenf. growing in experimental Garden of Botanical Survey of India, Shillong. The description and photographs of live plants are provided to facilitate its easier identification.

Keywords Flickingeria, Orchidaceae, Meghalaya, India.


The genus Flickingeria was established by A.D. Hawkes (1961), belongs to the subfamily Epidendroideae Lindl., tribe Dendrobieae, subtribe Dendrobiinae Lindl. of family Orchidaceae. The genus is characterized by fugacious flowers. Most often the short lived flowers bloom in the morning and wither out after a few hours or by afternoon i.e. lasting for half a day or so. This is due to thin membranous fast shriveling perianth of the flower. By evening the flower closes and if not pollinated even drop off. This may be a reason that most plants do not produce capsules. Seidenfaden (1980) considered distinguishing characters for different species, mainly the position of the inflorescence which always arises at base of the leaf. The inflorescence may be adaxial or abaxial to the leaf base but in many species it is a combination of both. Colour and markings on perianth parts including the lip are important key characters. The shape, size of lip parts and lamellae characters are also equally important for distinguishing the species. Beside these, characters of rhizome, internodes of stem, pseudobulb and leaf are also considerable for species differentiation.

The genus comprises c. 78 species (www.theplantlist. org), distributed in SE Asia, the Malay Archipelago, the Pacific Islands and NE Australia (Pearce & Cribb, 2002). In India, the genus is represented by nine species, of which seven species viz. Flickingeria albopurpurea Seidenf., F. bancana (J.J.Sm.) A.D. Hawkes, F. fimbriata (Blume) A.D.Hawkes, F. fugax (Rchb.f.) Seidenf., F. ritaeana (King & Pantl.) A. D. Hawkes, F. abhaycharanii Phukan & A.A.Mao, F. macraei (Lindl.) Seidenf. occur in Northeast India (Karthikeyan et al., 1989; Rao, 2007).

The genus has a very perplexed taxonomy and is being synonymised under genus Dendrobium chiefly based on Molecular studies (Schuiteman & Adams, 2011). However it is mentionable that this genus was segregated from Dendrobium based on a creeping rooting rhizome from which erect branching stems rise, branches are constructed like the stems and are likewise terminated by the development of a pseudobulb, ordinary branching takes place from the node right below the pseudobulbs, inflorescences are usually seen on top of the pseudobulbs close to the foliage leaf, which may be adaxial or abaxial and in the combination of both (Seidenfaden, 1980). The recent placement of the genus under Dendrobium which is based on molecular data deemed to be widely accepted. Therefore, the authors are preferring to opt the more widely accepted name i.e. Flickingaria macraei rather than treating the under the genus Dendrobium.

Recently, in month of July 2014 we observed this species in blooming at our experimental Botanic Garden located at Woodland campus, Shillong. We carefully studied the same and photographed. As there is no description based on live plant material available for this species, we take the opportunity to describe the same in present communication.

Taxonomic description

Flickingeria macraei (Lindl.) Seidenf, Dansk Bot. Ark. 34: 39 1980. Dendrobium macraei Lindl. Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl. 75 1830. Flickingeria rabanii (Lindl.) Seidenf., Dansk Bot. Ark. 34: 43 1980.

Epiphyte. Rhizome creeping, annulate, distinct nodes present, 0.4 – 0.5 mm width, green; pseudobulb prominent, green, beset on rhizome, round, 11 – 14 cm long, nodes distinct in stem and rhizome; 5 – 6 nodes in rhizome, rooting from the nodes of the rhizome. Pseudobulb fleshy, ribbed, fusiform, pseudobulb length 2.5 – 3.5 cm, breadth 1 – 1.2 cm elongated, from stem pseudobulb develop, a new stem develop from the old pseudobulb in zig-zag pattern, 2.1 – 3.5 cm long; leaf solitary on pseudobulb, terminal, linear oblong, subacute, 5.2 – 12.5 cm long, 1.7 – 2.5 breadth, retuse apex with short arista; leaf vein 8 – 9, Inflorecence from the base of the leaf or tip of the pseudobulb in both sides abaxial and adaxial of the leaf. Bract 2 mm long, white, ovate. Flowers 1 or 2, short pedicel, 2 cm long, light yellow; dorsal sepals white, 3 veined, lanceolate, acute apex, 10 mm long, breadth 3mm, dorsal petal white, 3 veined, 9 mm long, lateral sepals, white, acuminate apex, base truncate 10 mm long, 4 mm breadth, 5-veined; column 12 mm long; mentum 3 mm long, in right angle to the position of ovary, lip 10 mm long, orbicular side lobes, hypochile white, mesochile less prominent, two wavy keel extend from epichile to the hypochile, the distal keel straight, epichile yellow, less plicate, front edge truncate, a small tip in centre of the front edge. Pollinia 4, ovate, 1 mm long (Figure 1).

Distribution: Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland Orissa, Nilgiri hills; Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

Note: Historically, the Lindley’s first description of the species in discussion as Dendrobium macraei, shifted to genus Callista and a combination was made as C. macraei (Lindl.) O. Kuntze by Kuntze (1891). Hunt and Summerhayes (1961) changed the generic status of it and proposed a new name as Ephemerantha macraei (Lindl.) Hunt. et Sum. But, the genus Ephemerantha was invalid as A.D. Hawkes (1961) published Flickingeria about a month before the Ephemerantha to accommodate similar species. Genus Flickingeria was widely accepted by subsequent workers following this worldwide. Seidenfaden (1980), changed the taxonomic status of Dendrobium macraei and made a combination as Flickingeria macraei (Lindl.) Seidenf. (1980) which unanimously accepted by the other workers till the recent molecular works of Schuiteman & Adams (2011) which requires further wider acceptance.

Also, there is conflicts and confusion about the occurrence of this species in India. In fact this species was known through the publication of Hooker (1890) who had recorded it from Nilgiri hills, Concan, Khasia Mts., Sikkim Himalaya. King & Pantling (1898) described it again from Sikkim material. Cooke (1906) reported it for Bombay. Fischer (1928) described it as Desmotrichum fimbriatum in the Madras Flora. Joseph (1982a, b) reported this species for Nilgiris and Nongpoh (as Ephemerantha macraei). Deb & Dutta (1987) recorded it from Mizoram. Hegde (1984) and Chowdhury (1998) reported from Arunachal Pradesh. Barua (2001) recorded it from Kamrup district of Assam.

But Seidenfaden (1980) remarked that this species is confined to Sri Lanka only. He remarked that complication on the taxonomy of this species started when Hooker (1890) considered Desmotrichum fimbriatum Bl. and Dendrobium macraei Lindl. to be conspecific. He (Seidenfaden, 1980) explained the complicacy of D. macraei raised due to treating several species like Dendrobium fimbriatum Lindl., D. nodosum Dalz., D. rabani Lindl., D. pardalinum Rchb.f., D. flabellum Rchb.f., Desmotrichum fimbriatum Blume under it. Resulted several erroneous report from large area other than Ceylon incl. Deccan, Himalaya to Indonesia. The occurrence of the species from Sikkim is neither accepted by Seidenfaden (1980 nor the later workers (Pearce & Cribb, 2002; Lucksom, 2007). However the reports other than mentioned by Seidenfaden from other place in India is not verified as if now henceforth the presence of Flickingeria macraei in other part of India cannot be overruled. The study of live flowering specimen growing in our Garden, conforms it occurrence from NE India.


The authors are thankful to the Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata and the Head of Office of Eastern Regional Centre, BSI, Shillong for encouragement and facilities.


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