Ansellia gigantea, var. nilotica

Botanical Name

Ansellia gigantea var. nilotica

Other names

Leopard orchid


Orchidaceae; epiphytic orchid, sometimes terrestrial


A cluster of stems reaching about 60cm or more, in South Africa usually smaller; in tropical Africa apparently considerably larger clumps are common

Description of Stem

Stems green to white, emanating from pseudo bulbs and sheathed in old leaf bases, longitudinally ridged down to air roots that cling to the host tree bark

Description of Leaves

Up to 7 long, leathery and narrow leaves per pseudo bulb, wrapped round the stem at the base and tapering to a sharpish point, margins smooth, entire

Description of flowers

A few flowers per panicle, although some records report large numbers, even up to a hundred; each with five narrow segments/tepals, greenish yellow with striking scattered, purplish to brown spots; a centered modified and 3-lobed lip segment provides the distinctive orchid characteristic;  panicle may be up to 85cm; flowering early spring to midsummer

Description of seed/fruit


Description of roots

Thin white roots characteristically pointing upwards





Propagation and Cultivation

Will attach itself to a suitable tree in favourable conditions in a garden





Ecological rarity


Pests and Diseases



Attaching itself to a fork in a tree, not parasitic


Forest, coastal and riverine areas




South Africa, widespread in tropical Africa, notably Nigeria, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe

Category: Orchids