Herbarium Digital Library


Category: Plants and Orchids
Date Posted: 2006-10-18

PHREATIA IS ANOTHER GENUS OF INSIGNIFICANT SMALL flowered plants that are only of interest to the orchid fancier because they form an important portion of the indigenous orchid flora of the tropical Asia-South Pacific Area. Approximately two hundred and sixty species of the genus are dispersed throughout the vast area from India to the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, and of this number about thirteen have beer accredited to the Philippines. The plants are herbaceous epiphytes with or without pseudo-bulbs, stems generally short and the fleshy bases of the leaves somewhat compressed. The leaves are linear, fleshy or leathery and alWays distichously arranged so that the plants have an attractive symmetrical appearance which makes a few of them interesting for their foliage. The individual flowers have a distinct foot at the base of the column, a characteristic of the genus. The generic name Phreatia is a diminutive form of a' word meaning well or spring, probably in reference to the deeply sunken and enclosed anthers.

Phreatia densiflora, a common representative of the Philippine collection of the genus, is stem less with linear, lance-shaped leaves about ten inches long and one inch wide that have a pronounced unequally bilobed tip or apex. The leathery leaves have a prominent midrib, particularly on the lower surface and developed from more or less the same point on the plant, overlapping each other in an arrangement in one plane, without petiole or leafstalk. The flowers arise between the leaves in long dense racemes, which are longer than the leaves. There are thirty to forty inconspicuous white flowers with conspicuous ovaries on the gracefully curved racemes and the flowers have very short-pointed sepals and petals that are similar in shape and a reduced labellum. The specific name densiflora refers to the closely set raceme.

This is a widely distributed species and has been described under the following synonyms: Eria dertsiflorum, Eria My.ea.rurus, and Eria stachyurus. The plant can be collected from Bataan, Mount Mariveles and the mountains of eastern Luzon and has been reported from Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and Amboina.

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