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Orchadocarpa lilacina Ridl.
by Mr. Yao Tze Leong
Newsletter
Orchadocarpa lilacina Ridl.
by Mr. Yao Tze Leong

Orchadocarpa Ridl. is a monotypic genus endemic in Peninsular Malaysia. It is first discovered in Perak and made known to the scientific world in the early 20th century (Ridley, 1905).

Orchadocarpa lilacina is characterized by its very thin leaves covered with dense soft white hairs. It anchors in crevices of vertical granitic rock faces and steep earth banks with its woody rootstock measuring up to 10 cm long. The unequal leaves are oppositely arranged, crowded at the upper end of the rootstock. This habit, together with the exceptionally thin leaves and sharply toothed margin are useful characters to identify Orchadocarpa lilacina in the wild, even when it is neither in flower or fruit.

The flat-faced flower in pale lilac-blue has a very short corolla tube and two unequal lips. The darker-hued upper lip is smaller and deeply dissected to the base, while the lower lip is 3-lobed and the median lobe is longer than the laterals. The centre of the corolla is deep yellow, functioning as a nectar-guide for insect pollinators. The flat-faced flower is also observed in Peninsular Malaysian Paraboea species and very few in Codonoboea. It is, however, not a common character in the region's gesneriads.

Orchadocarpa lilacina grows in pristine montane forests on Titiwangsa Range, usually over 1000 m elevation above sea level.

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