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ENCYCLOPÆDIA
Mauritiana
Flora of Mauritius
   
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Flora

Vegetation

Orchids

 

Aeranthes arachnites

 

Angraecum cadetii

 

Angraecum calceolus

 

Angraecum cucullatum

 

Angraecum mauritianum

 

Angraecum pectinatum

 

Angraecum ramosum

 

Arnottia mauritiana

 

Beclardia macrostachya

 

Cryptopus elatus

 

Jumellea fragrans

 

Jumellea liliodora

 

Jumellea recta

 

Oberonia disticha

 

Oeoniella aphrodite

 

Oeoniella polystachys

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Angraecum Encyclopedia

Flora of Mauritius

The islands of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues have never been linked to main land Africa. First elements of the indigenous flora were transported to the islands by sea currents, winds, tropical storms and migrating birds or birds carried away to the islands by cyclonic winds. The Dutch at the beginning of the seventeenth century provided first hand accounts of the wildlife present at that time. The Van Warwick Report of 1601 mentioned that the island was mountainous and covered with forests, the trees being mainly Black Ebony and that edible Palm trees were common in the low lands savannas.

The Vegetation

According to Dr Gurib-Fakim et al (1995), different types of vegetation can be observed from the coastal zones to the high plateau and are, for Mauritius: Vegetation of sandy shores and beaches Mangroves Palm Savannah and the islets ( Round Island, Gunner's Quoin and others) The low land forests Savannah Tropical Evergreen Mountain Forest Wooded under growth of the high plateau Hearther tree or briar wood of the high plateau Marshes of the high plateau.See Flora of Mauritius for more details


Orchids

 
Aeranthes arachnites var.balfourii

Nearly 40 species of this genus are known in the Mascarenes and Madagascar. These epiphytic plants are characterized by a fan shape-leaf growth on short stems. The flower are translucent, in shades of white, green and yellow. These plants grow in tropical forest in deep shade and required shady and humid conditions in cultivation.

The flowers of Aeranthes arachnites Lindl. var.balfourii S.Moore are produced in succession on thin, wire like stems. Only one or two flowers are open at any one time so that the plant is often in flowers for months. The plant can be in flower at any season.It is known locally in Mauritius as orchidéé poule (chicken orchid) beause the flower resembles a chicken's beak.

It is epiphytic and is found growing in the crevices of rocks and on the base of dead or old trees. It has practically no stem and the strap-shaped leaves are deep green in colour, about 20-30 cm long and about 2.5 cm wide. The drooping flower spikes are about 20-30 cm long and very thin, like a telephone wire. The light green flowers are about 5 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. They com from the tip of the spike during the summer months. It is still a common plant and not too difficult to find

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Aeranthes arachnites
Aeranthes arachnites
Angreacum cadetii

The epiphytic Angraecum cadetii was reduced to only thirteen known individuals in 1987. It is quite common on Reunion.

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Angraecum cadetii
Angraecum cadetii

Angraecum calceolus

Angraecum calceolus (syn. Angraecum carpophorum) can be found in the Les Mares Nature Reserve.

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Angraecum calceolus
Angraecum calceolus
Photo courtesy of Dale Borders

Angraecum cucullatum

Angraecum cucullatum can be found in the Les Mares Nature Reserve.

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Angraecum cucullatum
Angraecum cucullatum

Angraecum mauritianum

Angraecum mauritianum could be called a road side orchid as it is commonly found growin along the road to Plaine Champagne in Mauritius

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Angraecum mauritianum
Angraecum mauritianum

Angraecum pectinatum

Angraecum pectinatum is perhaps the most common orchid found in the forests of Mauritius today. It is a small plant growing in clumps on branches or tree trunks. The small leaves measure about 2cm in length and are of deep green colour. The height of the plant rarely exceeds 12cm. The white flowers are very small, about 3-4 mm in diameter and last 2 to 3 days. It grows well in culture. If well looked after, the flowers are slightly bigger.

It can be found in the Les Mares Nature Reserve

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Angraecum pectinatum
Angraecum pectinatum

Angraecum ramosum

Angraecum ramosum can be found in Mauritius in some reserves.

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Angraecum ramosum
Angraecum ramosum

Arnottia mauritiana A.Rich

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Arnottia mauritiana
Arnottia mauritiana

Beclardia macrostachya

Beclardia macrostachya (A.Rich. -- in Mem. Soc. Hist. Nat. Par. iv. (1828) 70) is one of the prettiest orchids of the island but now unfortunately very rarely seen in the wild. It looks like a dwarf Angraecum eburneum and the fan-shaped leaves are very flexible. The long lasting flowers, about 4cm in diameter, are white with a fairly large labellum that is yellowish green in the throat

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Beclardia Beclardia macrostachya
Beclardia macrostachya
Photo courtesy Dominique Karadjoff

Cryptopus elatus

Cryptopus elatus Lindl. -- Bot. Reg. sub t. 817. is probably the most beautiful of all the indigenous orchids of the island. It is epiphytic and of monopodial growth habit. The leaves are dark green and leathery, 5-7cm in length and 1.2-1.6 cm in width. It is found growing at the bottom of small trees and even on the ground.

Except for the leaves, the plant grows in a similar manner as terete-leaved Vandas and produces an abundance of aerial roots.The inflorescence, 30-60cm long, which arises from the stem, is erect to semi pendolous and carries 7-12 white flowers that resemble some sort of insect. The sepals are short and narrow, the petals are larger and lobed at the tips and the lip is also a complicated structure, the tip being three to five lobed and carrying a small spur. In some varieties found in Reunion Island, there is a red marking at the base of the lip.

The strong fibers inside the roots were used by prawn catchers to make nooses to catch "camarons" in rivers, hence the plant being known as "liane camaron".The flowers were also used as bridal bouquets in the olden days when our forests were full of cryptopus elatus

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Cryptopus elatus
Cryptopus elatus
Photo courtesy of Orchidees.fr

Jumellea fragrans

Jumellea fragrans (Schltr., Orchideen, 609 / 1914 - syn. Angraecum fragrans ) The leaves of Jumellea fragrans are called Faham Leaves, belonging to the Orchidaceae. They have a strong and delicious aroma, and a sharp, aromatic taste. Introduced at one time in France as a substitute for ordinary tea (boubon tea, syn. faham tea).

Fifteen grains are infused in a cup of cold water, brought to boil for 10 minutes, poured into a closed container, and sweetened when partaken of. It comes from Mauritius and the Isle of Reunion, and contains coumarin. It is said to have a sedating effect on the nervous system and is used as a medicinal plant.

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Jumellea fragrans
Jumellea fragrans
Photo courtesy and © Marjolijn Lopes Cardozo

Jumellea liliodora

 

Jumellea recta

Jumellea recta Schltr. -- in Beih. Bot. Centralbl. xxxiii. II. 430 (1915). (syn Angraecum rectum) is the only species of the genus Jumellea indigenous to Mauritius. It is epiphytic or lithophytic, found growing on small trees or even on the gound of the forest.It is a small plant, about 15cm high, with strap-shaped leaves. The inflorescence is short and always bears a single flower that is much higher than wide. It is pure white in colour with a fairly long spur, and strongly fragrant, but lasts only a few days

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Oberonia disticha

Oberonia disticha can be found in the Les Mares Nature Reserve

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Oberonia disticha
Oberonia disticha
Photo courtesy Dominique Karadjoff

Oeniella aphrodite

Oeoniella aphrodite ( Balf.f. & S.Moore ) Schltr. in Beih. Bot. Centralbl. xxxvi. II. 177 (1918). It is known to exist only on the small island of Ile aux Aigrettes, about a kilometer off the south coast of Mauritius. It is epiphytic and grows on small trees at low altitude in areas where it is very dry and hot and with a sea breeze blowing. The inflorescence is about 20-30cm long bearing several long lived yellowish green flowers with a white lip

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Oeoniella aphrodite
Oeoniella aphrodite
Photo courtesy S.F.O.

Oeoniella polystachys

Oeoniella polystachys Schltr. (syn. Listrostachys polystachys Rchb.f.)

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Oeoniella polystachys

Oeoniella polystachys
Photo © SyuTyuSen

Most endemic orchids of Mauritius are CITUS-listed.:
Aeranthes arachnites Lindley var. balfourii S. Moore
Angraecum calceolus
Jumellea liliodora
Angraecum obversifolium Frapp.
Angraecum ramosum Thouars
Angraecum sp.
Arnottia mauritiana A. Rich.
Beclardia macrostachya
Bulbophyllum caespitosum Thouars
Bulbophyllum incurvum Thouars
Bulbophyllum pusillum Thouars
Calanthe candida Bosser
Cirrhopetalum thouarsii
Cohnia floribunda
Cynorkis squamosa Lindl.
Disperis tripetaloides (Thouars) Lindley
Graphorkis scripta Lindl.
Habenaria lancifolia A.Rich.
Habenaria rosellata (Thouars) Schltr.
Habenaria vesiculosa A.Rich.
Hederorkis scandens Thouars
Jumellea fragrans (Thouars) Schltr.
Jumellea recta (Thouars) Schltr.
Liparis flavescens (Thou.) Lindl.
Neottia scandens
Oberonia disticha (Lam.) Schltr.
Oeoniella aphrodite (Balf. f. & S. Moore) Schltr.
Oeoniella polystachys Schltr.
Phaius longibracteatus Frapp.
Phaius villosus Rchb.f.
Physoceras boryanum (A.Rich.)Posser
Platylepis occulta (Thou.) Reichb.f

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