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.
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.
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
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