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Cattleya nobilior has a very wide distribution area, and it is actually the species with the widest distribution
in the dry interior of Brazil. The area of distribution is not continuous, but instead produces two distinct ranges.
The western range includes most of the state of Mato-Grosso do Sul, the dry southern part of Mato-Grosso, the southern
part of Goiás and actually spreads into Bolivia; it is actually the only Cattleya species
that can be found in the Pantanal. This is where the typical dark-flowered nobiliors can be found. The second range,
which spreads in the Tocantins River Valley in the state of Tocantins, is more to the northeast and is separated
from the main range by the Central Plateau. This is where the subspecies amaliae comes
from. This subspecies produced flowers that are much light-colored, usually have rounder segments and have lips
that are generally flatter and with very contrasting darker veins. The differences between Cattleya nobilior and C. walkeriana in terms of plant habit have been discussed under the latter,
but we can summarize that Cattleya
nobilior produces always two leaves
atop the pseudobulbs while C. walkeriana produces only one (except of course, by anomaly where two
leaves can be found - I don't remember ever seeing nobiliors with one leaf though). A more in depth comparison
can be found here.
Cattleya nobilior occurs in areas that can be extremely dry during the Fall and Winter, and in fact some areas
have a rainy season that can be as short as 2-3 months. The result is that the plants are very well adapted to
these extreme conditions and this reflects markedly in their morphology. This short rainy season means that the
plants need to produce a totally developed growth in little time. Then, as the dry season comes, the plants mature
these new growths and finally flower at the end of this dry season. Thus, there is almost no apparent activity
for 6 months or more. When time come to flower, the plants produce new growths that are totally modified and have
no pseudobulbs or leaves, just the fairly short inflorescences. In cases where the plants produce seed pods, the
effort causes the plants not to produce any growths after flowering and the result is that frequently we can find
plants with 2, 3 and even up to five inflorescences in a row; This means that some plants don't grow for several
years. The plants are able to survive these conditions because they are extremely well rooted; the roots sometimes
can grow to more than 20 ft. As the plants have in most cases a brownish color which is about the same as the one
of the host trees (mainly a species of Tabebuia with purple flowers), one can spot the plants by their flowers
or by following the roots that are very white during the dry season. Flowers can last for several weeks under cooler
conditions, in the habitat the rule is 3-4 weeks.
Plants of Cattleya nobilior
are small, about the same size as the ones of C.
walkeriana, but usually a bit more
robust. Plants grow very well under more humid conditions, but if humidity is kept fairly high during the year,
with no marked dry period, plants might not even flower and just continue to grow instead of flowering.
Distribution Map for Cattleya nobilior.
There are two well distinct areas of distribution, well separated by the Central Plateau of Brasil. The range more
to the west, which is much broader and goes through the states of Goiás, Mato-Grosso and Mato-Grosso do
Sul (and into Bolivia), is where the regular dark-colored form of the species occurs; the eastern limit of this
range can mix a bit with the western limit of the range of Cattleya walkeriana.
The area to the northeast, which includes the states of Tocantins and Maranhão, is the distribution range
of subspecies amaliae. This range is within the basin of the Tocantins River, which
flows to the north and merges with the Araguaia River which in turn meets at the Amazon River at its mouth.
||Here we see Cattleya nobilior amaliae
growing in the natural habitat (1). These come from the Tocantins River valley, an area where
there is a very long and well marked dry season. As we can see, it is a very open forest, and most of the trees
are deciduous (which means they loose their leaves during the dry season). Cattleya nobilior flowers
here at the end of this long dry season, and thus produces an even more striking effect with the flowers contrasting
with the vegetation that looks like dead. The habitat of the typical Cattleya nobilior,
in Mato-Grosso, is fairly similar although usually the dry season is not as long or dry.
On 2, we see a fairly good shaped amaliae flower. Flowers can be much rounder, but the lighter colors
and flat lips are typical of these plants.
On 3, we see a high-quality dark color form from Mato-Grosso. These are much darker than the
amaliaes, but good shapes like on this one are hard to come by, and especially the lips tend to be not as flat
as on the amaliaes.
On 4, we see a coerulea form of Cattleya nobilior.
A few plants of this color form have been found, and are being reproduced with high rate of success. Plants are
usually very robust and floriferous, in this particular case producing five flowers on one inflorescence. These
coeruleas are from the Mato-Grosso type, so far no amaliaes.