SA Orchids: Corycium

Corycium is a small African genus, represented in southern Africa by 14 species with two of these ranging into central Africa. With flowers resembling a "bull-dog's face", coryciums do not look like typical orchids. Plants thrive in small to large colonies in fynbos, bushveld and grassland. Most species are fairly common, though sometimes localised, but a few are very rare and hardly ever seen. The pollination by oil-collecting bees has been studied in detail in the past few years. Flowering occurs in spring or summer, with some species flowering mainly after fire.

The genus Corycium is in most respects very similar to Pterygodium. The only major difference refers to the general flower shape, which is either globose or subglobose (rounded and looking rather closed) in Corycium. The flowers are mostly smaller and are borne in dense spikes. An interesting feature is that in some species the sepals and petals dry out fast, making even fresh flowers look old and past their best.

Selected species and their main distribution
Winter-rainfall area: C. bicolorum, C. orobanchoides ('baster-trewwa'), C. crispum ('geel baster-trewwa'), C. ingeanum
Summer-rainfall area: C. nigrescens ('black- faced orchid')
Both areas: C. carnosum


Plants of the genus Corycium are difficult to grow. They are also not very sought after, as their flowers are small. Cultivation requirements are the same as those for Disperis.


Click images to enlarge

Corycium carnosum
C. carnosum
Corycium crispum
C. crispum
Corycium nigrescens
C. nigrescens

C. ingeanum

Description and images : Hubert Kurzweil
Cultivation: Hildegard Crous
October 2000

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