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Laelia crispata (flava)
Laelia crispata is better known as L.
flava. According to Garay, Laelia crispata should be the correct name for L.
rupestris, but after examining the
types of both Lindley's species and of Thunberg's Cymbidium
crispatum, I have to disagree with
his opinion. I am not going to extend myself much more here on these taxonomy issues, as I have already expressed
my points on scientific papers. However, I am writing an article to appear in this site under the Taxonomy section
that will explain the subject in detail. So, Laelia
flava should be correctly named L. crispata, and L. rupestris stays as a good standing name. These days, such names are
not very representative, as we have more than a dozen species with yellow flowers (most of them would fit the "flava" description - flavus, a, um in Latin) and most of the species in the section would be
but one has to remember that when Lindley described both species there was only one other species known in the
group; this was Laelia cinnabarina, with orange flowers (Laelia caulescens
was a mix-up by then, so it doesn't count...). That's it about this subject for now.
Back to Laelia crispata,
it is probably the better known of the yellow flowered rupiculous laelias. The species is the most widespread on
the iron ore mountain ranges from Belo Horizonte to the East and to the South. The more eastbound location seems
to be the Serra do Caraça, where the plants can be found on the outside slopes where iron ore extrusions
occur; on the inside slopes of the Caraça, the species is not so common, and mostly the plants grow on granite
rock ledges. Both habitats have the plants growing rather protected, and altitudes vary from 900 meters (3,000
ft.) to 1400 meters (about 4,500 ft.). Laelia
crispata is very common around Belo
Horizonte, and on the Serra da Piedade plants can be found more exposed to direct light and at higher elevation
(to 1700 meters, about 5,500 ft.). The plants probably can grow more exposed at the Piedade as the elevation is
higher and cooling winds are stronger. Iron ore rocks here. Going to the south, after Congonhas do Campo (about
80 Km. or 80 mi. south of Belo Horizonte) the rocks are mostly sandstone and granite and the species still can
be found in fair numbers down to the Serra do Ibitipoca, already near the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Distribution Map for Laelia crispata.
This is one of the more widespread species of rupiculous laelias, especially if we think of the yellow-flowered
ones. It is not as plentiful, though, in any given locality as, for example, Laelia caulescens.
Laelia crispata is quite uniform in terms of flower habit. The inflorescences are always at least 3-5 times
higher than the plants, and the flowers are bunched on the top of them. Flower color is a quite uniform medium
yellow throughout the range, although colors seem to be slightly brighter when plants grow on iron ore. Variation
goes from a light yellow to an almost orange-yellow, some individuals having flowers with red veins in the lip.
Flowers range from 4 to 6 cm. (about 1 1/2" to 2 1/2"), and are produced up to more than 12 on a spike.
||Laelia crispata usually grows protected by shrubs of various types or grasses, and thus plants can get
fairly large, sometimes more than 10 inches tall. In these cases the plants are difficult to spot when not in flower.
In less common situations, however, the plants are found exposed to almost full sunlight, and thus can be quite
short for the species and produce less flowers. Laelia
crispata is quite common on iron ore
areas, but also can be found on nearby sandstone. On 1 we can see one of these less protected habitats, but in this
case the individual plant is shaded by a small Vellozia shrub. On 2 there are
flowers of one of the darker yellow forms.