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Phragmipedium kovachii J.T. Atwood, Dalström & Ric. Fernández
in Selbyana, 23 (Supplement): 1-3 (2002).
Synonyms :
Phragmipedium peruvianum Christenson non hort. ex Rands in Orchids, 71(7): 620-622 (2002).
Phragmipedium moyobambii hort. , nomen nudum.
Type(s) :
Etymology : This species is named after J. Michael Kovach of Goldvein, Virginia, U.S.A., co-collector of the species.
Plant : A caespitose terrestrial, apparently not forming elongate rhizomes. Roots thick, to 4 mm in diameter.
Leaves : 3 or more basal distichous, lacking articulations, blades ligulate, according to collector notes to 64 x 4 cm, but mostly much smaller, rather thick and coriaceous, keeled beneath, sharply acute.
Inflorescence : ca. 23 - 25 cm tall, pubescent, purple, with a single green scape bract 7 - 9 cm long; ovary ca. 8 cm long, brown pubescent, subtended by an acute floral bract 4 - 5.5 cm long.
First impressions are that this is a non-successively flowering species.

Flower : Single per scape on the present specimen (2 possible according to the collector) 11 cm across (to 15 cm according to verbal reports); sepals greenish flushed and lined with reddish purple, petals reddish purple within, reddish purple without and white centrally; lip reddish purple, lighter within, with yellow margins; staminode purple with white apex. Sepals somewhat concave, densely golden-brown pubescent without, dorsal 4.5 x 3 cm, broadly elliptic, obtuse, synsepal 5 x 3.7 cm, broadly elliptic to suborbicular, obtuse. Petals 6 x 4.8 cm, broadly elliptic, with somewhat recurved margins, labellum 5.5 - 7.5 x 3.5 - 4 cm, saccate with the apex turned up in front and the margin infolded, pubescent within at the base, Staminode 1.3 x 2 cm, convex, triangular to rhombic, anthers nearly toughing the stigmas; stigmas three, the median stigma particularly large, ca. 1 cm long. Mature fruit unknown.
Habitat :
Distribution : This species is only known from a small area in north-eastern Peru, in the Dept. Amazonas, at an elevation of ca. 2100 m.
Flowering Season : The period of flowering of this species is variable. According to Alfredo Manrique (Braem, 2004), the plants flower in general between September and the beginning of January in their natural habitat. However the type specimen was collected in flower towards the end of April, and at least two plants were mentioned to be flowering in their habitat towards the end of May.
Chromosomes : Jerry Fischer (2005) of Orchids Limited reports that his nursery counted the chromosomes on the root tips, and found Phrag. kovachii to be a diploid where 2n=32.
History : The type specimen was collect on 05-Jun-2002 by Michael Kovach in Peru, Dept. Amazonas, ca. 2100 m elevation.

After its discovery this species was described twice almost at the same time. John T. Atwood together with Stig Dalström and Ricardo Fernández described it in a five-page supplement to Volume 23 of Selbyana, a publication by the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Florida, U.S.A., as Phragmipedium kovachii. The other publication of this new species from Peru was by Eric A. Christenson as Phragmipedium peruvianum in the July issue of Orchids Magazine, which is published by the American Orchid Society. To see which of the two publications has priority according to the rules of botanical nomenclature, one has to look at the date at which the printed material has become available to the general public or at least to botanical institutions with libraries accessible to botanists generally. Since the publication by the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens was available about two weeks before the publication by the American Orchid Society the name Phrag. kovachii has priority over the name Phrag. peruvianum which will be recorded as a synonym for the species.

When they described this species in 2002 both J.T. Atwood, Dalström & Fernández and Christenson placed Phrag. kovachii in the section Micropetalum (Hallier)Garay. They said it to be closely related to Phrag. schlimii and Phrag. fischeri. However in 2004 Guido J. Braem was of opinion that there are enough differences in the flower that it was justified to put it in its own separate section. He created for that purpose the section Schluckebieria. This was done in his article; Phragmipedium kovachii, Schluckebieria - nouvelle section du genre Phragmipedium - et réflextions sur les pratiques taxinomiques, Richardiana, IV(3), 89-102 (2004). The following text is based on and translated from the above mentioned article.
The placement of Phrag. kovachii in the section Micropetalum is opposed by several important morphological differences between Phrag. kovachii and the other plants of that section. For one, the flowers of Phrag. kovachii are at least four times larger than those of the other species of the section Micropetalum. Secondly Phrag. kovachii shows no "windows" at the sides of the pouch. And third the form of the lip and the position of the staminode show that Phrag. kovachii belongs to a completely different regime of pollination; the form of the lip is closer to that of the plants of the sections Phragmipedium and Himantopetalum. The transition between the side lobes and the main lobe (the pouch) form a distinct isthmus in Phrag. kovachii, whereas it is continuous in the species of the section Micropetalum. So although there are similarities in the vegetative and floral structures, the differences between Phrag. kovachii and all the other species of the genus plead in favour of a distinct section to place the new plant in.
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