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Laelia pumila is the most widespread and better known species of section Hadrolaelia,
a small group of six species. Laelia
pumila is very closely related to
L. praestans and L. dayana,
forming with them what is usually called the "pumila" group. Without flowers, the plants are absolutely
impossible to distinguish, and in this respect the species of the "pumila" group separates themselves
from the other three species of the section which can be easily identified by their plants. Laelia pumila, like the other species of the section, produces very short plants (usually they don't
grow taller than 6") and large flowers in proportion. Like all the the other species in the section, Laelia pumila produces the inflorescences directly from inside the developing new leaf, thus not producing
a flower sheath. In this respect, the group is very similar to Sophronitis coccinea.
Flowers of Laelia pumila can be up to more than 5" across, although they are
usually just a bit more than 4". Flowers are usually very flat, contrasting with those of Laelia dayana (see April 2000
for a description and comparison), and have an uniform magenta color. The lip is white with a dark purple front
section which spreads to the side lobes and thus paint the whole opening of its tube, inside it, there are 3-7
flat, longitudinal keels that elevate at the opening of the tube. Laelia pumila
has been extensively used in hybridizing, mainly because it is easy to grow and produces such colorful and large
flowers. These features are quite dominant in its hybrids.
Distribution Map for Laelia pumila.
The species has the widest distribution range in the section Hadrolaelia.
||On 1, we see on
of these gallery forests where Laelia
pumila is (or used to be) so common.
This is the main habitat for the species from the surroundings of Belo Horizonte, to the south, up north to Diamantina.
This is basically the only type of humid forest that can be found in the region, as most of the mountains around
have very shallow soil and, as we go to the north, the climate shown a progressively better marked dry season.
Inside these narrow strips of forest, on the margins of rivers, plants grow under fairly shady conditions and there
is enough constant humidity throughout the year as the plants need.
On 2, we see a close-up of a typical flower of Laelia pumila.
The color is the norm for the species, and even the lighter mark at the front lobe is typical except for the very
dark colored individuals. Shape is good for a jungle plant; most remarkably, the petals do not "droop"
much, as it is common for the species.
On 3, there is a very dark individual produced from seed, offspring of the well-known 'Black
Diamond' individual. This seedling batch produced very dark and well-shaped flowers. From 'BD', we have the very
dark sepals and petals, lip with solid front color, and petals that are a bit "droopy". The other parent,
'Rossi', improved on shape but lightened a bit the color.
On 4, we can see the typical shape of a native Laelia pumila,
but in this case, the flower is of the coerulea form (and thus we cane forgive the shape). Color is exceptionally
dark, especially on the lip, something unusual for coeruleas of the species.