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Sophronitis brevipedunculata is a well-known species in the genus, and it is one of the
few that can grow well under warmer temperatures. This is easy to understand when we know the way plants grow in
nature. Sophronitis brevipedunculata is found in the mountainous interior of the state of Minas
Gerais, growing on Vellozia shrubs or sometimes directly on rocks. Elevation is usually
around 3,200 to 4,000 ft. (some 1000 to 1300 meters), and temperatures during the day tend to be quite high during
most of the year (but being cooler from April to September). During the night, temperatures drop considerably,
although Summer nights are usually quite warm considering the altitude. This variation in temperature from day
to night and throughout the year makes for a very adaptable species. Considering that plants grow under rather
intense light conditions (much more than Sophronitis
coccinea and other related species),
they are subject to an even greater temperature range, so growing conditions are closer than those for S. cernua (but obviously more cold tolerant as plants come from higher elevations). The exposure
to these types of conditions have Sophronitis
brevipedunculata producing plants
that are very similar to those of S.
cernua and to some extent S. wittigiana, that is with pseudobulbs and leaves that are flattened and parallel to the substrate,
with this protecting the rhizomes and roots from excess of light and heat. Then. if you are thinking about what
group of species we can relate Sophronitis
brevipedunculata to in terms of growing
conditions, you are right if you thought of the rupiculous laelias. In fact, there are several species of them
growing in the same region, sometimes same place.
Sophronitis brevipedunculata got its name from the very short flower spikes, sometimes
it looks that the flowers are originating directly from inside the leaf. This might be an adaptation from exposure
to light and wind (yes, these areas are subject to constant winds, sometimes quite intense to the point of making
habitat photography miserable).
Distribution Map for Sophronitis brevipedunculata.
Range is somewhat limited, starting around Ouro Branco to the south and going to the region of Diamantina, usually
whenever elevation is above 3,000 ft. There is no noticeable variation throughout the population, but flowers vary
in size more of an individual feature.
||Sophronitis brevipedunculata has a much more restricted distribution than S. coccinea, but still the plants can be abundant wherever they occur. The habitat is completely different
than that of Sophronitis coccinea, as here the plants grow on open areas instead of the tropical
rain forest. These areas are subject to a dry season that can be as long as several months, and during it the plants
rely almost exclusively on night dew. Fortunately, these dry periods coincide with the cooler periods. The plants
are also subject to a lot of wind and light.
On 1 and 2 we see the typical way these plants grow, that is, attached
to large Vellozia shrubs. These Vellozia can
exceed 10 ft. in high and be several hundred years old, so in the past the cutting of these shrubs for collecting
Sophronitis brevipedunculata and also Constantia cipoensis
has had an impact on the natural habitat. The main reason was to keep the plants from suffering complete root destruction
during collection. And as one can guess, the plants grow very well attached to Vellozia pieces.
Fortunately this is forbidden now.
On 3, a big clump can be seen growing directly attached to a rock, and this is not unusual.
If you think of it, the light and air circulation conditions are essentially similar on the Vellozia and on the rocks. So essentially the plants are "epiphytic" on rocks, as I always
On 4 we see a typical flower of the species. The color is not a pure red as in Sophronitis coccinea, but has a strong deep magenta component. Flowers are usually a bit bigger than those of
Sophronitis coccinea, but sometimes can be much larger (up to 3" across).
Flower shape is also usually rounder than that in Sophronitis
coccinea, of course if we don't count
the tetraploid forms there.
On 5, we can see
one of the very rare color forms of the species. Although not a real albino, this is a very close albescens. The true albinos don't have the pink suffusion on the segments but are of an uniform creamy-yellow.
They are also extremely rare.