Bonatea saundersioides is a slender ground orchid, a perennial herb growing to 35 cm in height from fleshy, tuberous roots.
Its leaves are lance-shaped, sheathing the stem at the base and tapering to acutely pointed tips that curve down. The photo shows the leaves well spaced, their long white basal sheaths each enveloping a section of the stem above a node.
Leaf margins may be wavy, although not always. Leaf colour is dark green, the pale midrib visible near the leaf base and longitudinal channelling coinciding with the few veins. The few basal leaves are large, the spaced cauline ones spiralling up the stem while reducing in size. A basal leaf becomes about 14 cm long and 2,5 cm wide. The leaves that are green here at bloom time, may also be withered by the time these plants flower.
B. saundersioides is found in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, as well as beyond the South African border, where it grows in tropical woodland shade. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century. The plants are browsed by antelope (Pooley, 1998; www.redlist.sanbi.org).
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