Satyrium carneum (Dryand.) Sims
Common names: pink satyr orchid (Eng.); rooikappie, rooi-trewwa, ewwa-trewwa (Afr.)
Satyrium carneum, an endemic orchid in Western Cape from the Cape Peninsula to Riversdale, is becoming increasingly local and rare.
Satyrium carneum is a robust plant with stout stems. It grows to a height of between 370-710 mm. Leaves, 2-4, are thick and fleshy and arise from apically bifid (split in two) tubers, and the lower leaves are partly prostrate. The bracts are partly deflexed. The flowers are many, in a dense raceme, an are pale pink to rose, rarely white. The sepals are 13-18 mm long and the spurs 14-20 mm long. It flowers in spring and early summer, from September to November.
This plant is becoming increasingly rare.
Distribution and habitat
Satyrium carneum grows among dune-bush vegetation, in coastal fynbos on hills and ridges, and on moist to dry sands and limestone.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The name Satyrium refers to the two-horned mythical satyr, an allusion to the two-lipped flowers. Carneum refers to the pink colour of the flowers.
In 1787 Masson introduced Satyrium carneum and S. odorum, which were amongst the first South African orchids, to European horticulture.
Satyrium carneum is pollinated by the Lesser Double-collared, Orange-breasted and Malachite Sunbirds. Seed is dispersed by wind.
Growing Satyrium carneum
Satyrium carneum grows naturally among dune vegetation and coastal fynbos and in moist to dry soils. It makes a wonderful pot plant. Plant in well-drained, sandy soil; the pot can be placed in full sun or semi-shaded areas. Plants are dormant during summer. During winter, water the plant twice a week, and feed with a seaweed-based fertiliser every two months. The main pest is mealy bug, which can be treated with a pesticide.
Plants are best propagated via tissue culture in a sterile laboratory. It can also be grown from seed. Sow seed on soil which is well drained and which contains mycorrhizas. Keep tray in a sheltered area and in full sun, and keep the soil moist. Once germinated, plants can be fed with a seaweed-based fertiliser to promote growth.
- Goldblatt, P & Manning, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town & Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, USA.
- Linder, H.P & Kurzweil, H. 1999. Orchids of southern Africa. Balkema, Rotterdam.
- Stewart, J., Linder, H.P., Schelpe, E.A. & Hall, A.V. 1982. Wild orchids of southern Africa. MacMillan, Johannesburg.
Harold Porter NBG
Plant Type: Orchid
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer
Flower colour: White, Pink
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Challenging