Sophronitis, abbreviated Soph in horticultural trade, is a genus of small, epiphytic or lithophytic orchids, growing in the damp montane forest of eastern Brazil, Paraguay and NE Argentina. Currently, 65 species are recognized.
Sophronitis species are widely known for their red flowers, particularly Sophronitis coccinea. Between the time that the Brazilian Laelias were moved to Sophronitis and the reduction of Sophronitis to synonymy under Cattleya, the genus was also known for large flowered species such as Sophronitis purpurata.
In January 2008, the International Orchid Committee voted to reduce Sophronitis to synonymy under Cattleya. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has already moved a hybrid of the rupicolous Laelia that had been renamed Sophronitis esalqueana into the genus Cattleya.
They have short, ovoid, often densely clustered pseudobulbs along the rhizome, in which grows a single, or rarely two, apical, erect, fleshy, gray-green leaves.
The leaf gives rise to a terminal inflorescence with one to eight flowers. Sometimes this inflorescence is subtended by a spathaceous bract, sometimes erroneously called spathe (spathe is a typical form in some other families such as Araceae and Arecaceae). The flowers have similarly shaped sepals and petals, and can be yellow, pink, lavender, magenta, orange and red.
The trilobed lip has lateral lobes that partially encircle the column. The smaller midlobe has a yellow disc and the spur is adnate to the ovary. The lip often presents some lamellate calli.
Some species are yellow, and almost all species have some shades of orange due to natural variation within the species.
They are used extensively in hybridization to influence the small size and the dark red color of the progeny, such as in the hybrid x Sophrolaeliocattleya (xSlc.) Sophronitis species are quite small, a characteristic that may be conferred to progeny such that they are more compact.
This new classification was created by Van den Berg and M.W. Chase in 2000. In addition to the traditional small, red species, it included all Laelia species from Brazil, based on DNA evidence. The Mexican species still are Laelia.
Sophronitis coccinea and its Culture
New Miniature Forms
All information presented here is for educational and informational purposes only under the guidelines of "Fair Use" policies defined by US Copyright law(s). Some images and select text are protected by respective copyright holders. Material presented here is done so as educational, and "as is". The Napa Valley Orchid Society, it's executive Board, General members and the web site maintainer cannot be held liable for any damages incurred.
When necessary, images and texts will be fully credited to the original.
Information here may be used by other orchid societies as long as they credit the original creator and at least mention the Napa Valley Orchid Website as a courtesy.