Sobralia lindleyana

Rchb. f. 1852

Native to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama (Chiriquí province)

Edited 3 January 2010

Sobralia lindleyana photo by Virginia Magnus

Sobralia lindleyana Rchb. f. 1852

This species was named for John Lindley, botanist and taxonomist, author of "The Genus and Species of Orchidaceae Plants" and the unfinished book, "Folia Orchidaceae." Lindley is considered to be the "father" of modern orchid studies.

This species has purplish-brown marbled stems that grow to about 2 ft (60 cm) tall, and is found growing both as an epiphyte and as a terrestrial. Each inflorescence bears 2-3 creamy white flowers, April to July. The tip of each sepal has a thin, sharp apicule. The lip is either whitish or golden yellow, with brown or brownish-red spots and it is particularly distinguished by the rows of matted yellow or brownish hairs. The callus is comprised of seven shallow (low) keels, behind which are three small horns or teeth. The winged column is white and yellow and the anther cap is cream-colored.

In Costa Rica, specimens have been collected from the Pacific watershed in the province of San José at 2,000 m (flowering in July), in the province of Puntarenas at 1,500-1,600 m (flowering in May, July), and in the provinces of Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Limon, and Heredia (see Lucas Rodriguez, 1986). In Panama, Sobralia lindleyana is found only in the province of Chiriquí (adjacent to Costa Rica).

Photos provided by Virginia Magnus.

Woodstream Orchids offers the following description: "Very nice robust compact grower that produces showy 3 inch white blooms with brown and gold around the corona. Grow intermediate, with moderately bright-bright light, evenly moist" (offers species for sale at

Printed References:

Paul Hamilton Allen (1958) "Sobralia Intermedia," in: Bull. Amer. Orch. Soc. 27(8):534-535. [Sobralia decora; Sob. X intermedia; Sob. leucoxantha; Sob. liliastrum; Sob. lindleyana; Sob. macrantha; Sob. panamensis; Sob. sessilis]

Rafael Lucas Rodriguez Caballero, Dora Emila Mora, Maria Eugenia Barahona, Norris H. Williams (1986) Generos de Orquideas de Costa Rica. San Jose: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica, 334 pp. [text and watercolor painting of Sob. lindleyana Reichb. f., pp. 82-83]. Dr. Rafael Lucas Rodríguez Caballero is a professor of biology at the University of Costa Rica and created the beautiful watercolor paintings in this book. Available in both hard and softcover. Recommended.

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp.; hardcover. [Sob. allenii; Sob. amabilis; Sob. atropubescens ; Sob. bletiae; Sob. bouchei; Sob. bradeorum; Sob. callosa ; Sob. corazoi; Sob. decora; Sob. decora var. aerata; Sob. fenzliana; Sob. fimbriata; Sob. fragrans; Sob. helleri; Sob. labiata; Sob. lepida; Sob. lindleyana; Sob. luteola; Sob. macra; Sob. macrantha ; Sob. macrophylla; Sob. mucronata; Sob. neglecta; Sob. pfavii; Sob. pleiantha; Sob. powellii; Sob. suaveolens; Sob. undatocarinata; Sob. valida; Sob. warscewiczii; Sob. wercklei]

Robert L. Dressler (1980) "Checklist of the Orchids of Panama," in: Orchids of Panama. 590 pages (pp. I-XXVI). Missouri Botanical Garden. [Sobralia allenii, amabilis, atropubescens (was decora var. aerata), bletiae, bouchei, callosa, fenzliana (was panamensis), fragrans, labiata, lindleyana, macrophylla (was rolfeana), powellii (was leucoxantha), suaveolens, undatocarinata, valida, warszewiczii]

Fritz Hamer (1990) Orchids of Central America: An Illustrated Field Guide (M-Z), in Selbyana 11(Suppl.):423-860 [Line drawings: p.594: Palmorchis silvicola; pp.764-781: Sobralia bradeorum, chatoensis, decora, fenzliana, fragrans, helleri, lepida, lindleyana, luteola, macra, macrantha, macrantha var. kienastiana, mucronata, powellii, suaveolens, triandra, warscewiczii, xantholeuca]

W.D. Stevens, Carmen Ulloa Ulloa, Amy Pool, & Olga Martha Montiel (editores) (2001) Flora de Nicaragua -- Orchidaceae. Monogr. Syst. Bot. 85: 1–2666. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, in Spanish and Latin. [Sobralia bradeorum, chatoensis, decora, fenzliana, fragrans, helleri, lindleyana, luteola, macrantha, mucronata, powellii, suaveolens, triandra, warscewiczii; pp.1829-1834]

H. Teuscher (1965) "Sobralia mucronata and S. lindleyana," in: American Orchid Society Bulletin, 34(11):994-997. [with photos of flowers and plants of both species]

Louis Otho Williams and Paul Hamilton Allen (8 March 1946) Orchidaceae, Flora of Panama Part III. Fascicle 2., pp. 107-246, in: Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 33: 30. [Sobralia allenii, amabilis, bletiae, bouchei, callosa, fenzliana, fragrans, labiata, leucoxantha, lindleyana, panamensis, decora var. aerata , rolfeana, suaveolens , valida, warszewiczii, macrophylla]

Louis Otho Williams and Paul Hamilton Allen (reprinted 1980) Orchids of Panama. 590 pages. 1980 reprint of 1946 also includes "Checklist of the Orchids of Panama," by Robert L. Dressler.

Online references:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Costa Rica, National Biodiversity Institute, 3 specimens in BIMS database: Sobralia lindleyana,

Flora of Panama checklist, Missouri Botanical Garden. Found only in Chiriquí province; MAP:,-82.33,6,4

Harvard University Herbarium, Index of Botanical Specimens (as of 10 April 2003). URL: [99 Sobralias listed: Sobralia allenii; amesiana; amparoae; atropubescens; biflora; bimaculata; bletiae; bouchei; bradeorum; buchtienii; callosa; corazoi; crocea; decora; decora Bateman var. aerata P. H. Allen & L. O. Williams; edwardsii; epiphytica; fenzliana; fimbriata; galeottiana; hoppii; infudibuligera (infundibuligera); klotzscheana; labiata; lancea; lepida; leucoxantha; lindleyana; luteola; macra; macrantha; macrophylla; mandonii; mucronata; neglecta; panamensis; panamensis Schlechter var. albiflos Schlechter; persimilis; pfavii; pleiantha; powellii; pulcherrima; rigidissima; rolfeana; rosea; roseo-alba; sancti-josephi; sanderae; semperflorens; speciosa; suaveolens; sulphurea; undatocarinata; valida; violacea; warszewiczi; wilsoniana]

Listed as "rara" (Categoría de protección), along with Sob. mucronata in the Norma Oficial Mexicana list (NOM-ECOL-059-94)

Photo posted by Woodstream Orchids,

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