Satyrium carneum, an endemic in Western Cape from the Cape
Peninsula to Riversdale, is becoming increasingly local and rare.
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, the lower leaves are partly prostrate. The
bracts are partly deflexed. The flowers are many, in a dense raceme,
are pale pink to rose, rarely white. The sepals are 13-18 mm long
and the spurs 14-20 mm long. It flowers from September to November.
It grows among dune-bush vegetation, in coastal fynbos on hills
and ridges, 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.
It is pollinated by the Lesser Double-collared, Orange-breasted
and Malachite Sunbirds. Seed is dispersed by wind.
Growing 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 winter. During summer water the plant
twice a week, and feed with a seaweed-based fertilizer every two
months. The main pest is mealy bug, which can be treated with a
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 fertilizer 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