Monographs Details: Schiekia orinocensis subsp. silvestris Maas & Stoel
Authority: Maas, P. J. M. & Maas-van de Kamer, H. 1993. Haemodoraceae. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 61: 1-44. (Published by NYBG Press)
Description:Latin Diagnosis - Differt a subspecie orinocensi foliis dispersis et frequenter latioribus, 1.2-3 cm latis, praeterea inflorescentia foliis breviore.

Subspecies Description - Herbs 20-60 cm tall, rhizomes horizontally creeping, to over 30 cm long, 0.5-1 cm in diam. Leaves thickened, scattered, 20-50 cm long, (0.9-) 1.2-3(-3.5) cm wide. Inflorescence 3-12(-23) cm long, 1.5-9 cm wide, to 22 cm shorter than the leaves (in one collection 2 cm longer), cincinni 5-25-flowered. Number of cataphylls 0-2. Primary bracts 0.3-1.1 cm long. Floral bracts 0.1-0.4 cm long. Flowers with outer tepals 5-6 mm long, ca. 1 mm wide, inner ones 5-7 mm long, 1-2 mm wide. The three abaxial tepals reflexed. Abaxial stamen 4-5 mm long, the two adaxial ones 2-3 mm long. Staminodes 3-4 mm long. Style ca. 3 mm long. Capsule 3-5 mm long, 4-6 mm in diam.

Discussion:Uses. Schiekia orinocensis subsp, silvestris is used by the Kubeo medicine men on the Río Kuduyari (Colombia, Vaupés) as a tea made of crushed leaves and roots when they treat a condition described as “shaking all over” (Schultes, 1978).

Two subspecies of Schiekia orinocensis are recognized based on a combination of width of leaves and length of inflorescence (see Table I). The subspecies Schiekia orinocensis subsp. silvestris is defined as having relatively broad leaves (1.2-3 cm wide) and an inflorescence shorter than the leaves (in one case exceeding them by 2 cm), as illustrated in Fig. 12, A-B. The typical subspecies Schiekia orinocensis subsp, orinocensis is extremely variable: leaf width varies from 0.2 to 2 cm and the inflorescence is either longer than the leaves (to 54 cm longer) or shorter than the leaves (to 19 cm shorter). This occurs even within one collection (Huber 1205 (U), plant A of Table I).

Within this variable subspecies orinocensis there is a group of small plants (to 41 cm tall) with narrow leaves (0.2-0.9 cm wide) and short inflorescence (maximally exceeding the leaves by 6 cm) as illustrated in Fig. 10, C-D. This group could be referred to as a savanna morph of S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis. Maguire and Wurdack (1957) diagnosed their Schiekia orinocensis subsp, savannarum as “Debilis (ad 40 cm altis) foliis pedunculi reductis, foliis basalibus 3-6 mm latis”. These characters coincide very well with our savanna morph, being to 41 cm tall, bearing 0-3 cataphylls, and having leaves 0.2-0.9 cm wide.

There are, however, also specimens with narrow leaves but very long inflorescences, like Jenman 5728 (plant B of Table I). This collection of Jenman was included by Maguire and Wurdack in their subsp, savannarum, because they divided Schiekia orinocensis in two subspecies based on leaf characters mainly: 1. S. orinocensis subsp, savannarum, the “savanna subspecies”, and 2. S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis, the “woodland form”, larger plants with leaves 9-25 mm wide, and more cataphylls.

Combining leaf and inflorescence characters we set the broad-leaved form with short inflorescence aside as S. orinocensis subsp, silvestris; the narrow-leaved plants with short to long inflorescence we recognize as an extremely variable S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis (see Table I). The collection of Huber 1890 (U) consisting of a savanna morph together with a plant belonging in pure S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis confirms this decision (plant C of Table I).

The type specimen of S. orinocensis subsp. orinocensis, von Humboldt & Bonpland 843 (P), being a plant with leaves to 1.2 cm wide and an inflorescence exceeding the leaves by 16 cm fits our definition of S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis (plant D of Table I). Maguire and Wurdack had difficulties in placing it; because of its broad leaves they spoke of “a slight aberration of the typical woodland form”.

Summarizing, Schiekia orinocensis subsp. silvestris comprises relatively tall plants with long creeping rhizomes, scattered and relatively broad leaves, few cataphylls, and inflorescences not exceeding the leaves. Plants belonging in Schiekia orinocensis subsp, orinocensis (including the savanna morph) can be taller, have short rhizomes, radical and relatively narrow leaves, more cataphylls, and inflorescences exceeding or not exceeding the leaves. In northern South America both pure S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis and its savanna morph are found. In the southern part of the distribution area, in Brazilian Matto Grosso, only S. orinocensis subsp, orinocensis with long exceeding inflorescences occurs. The savanna morph of S. orinocensis subsp. orinocensis comprises small plants with short rhizomes, radical and very narrow leaves, some cataphylls, and inflorescences not exceeding to slightly exceeding the leaves. It is found in savanna areas of the northern part of South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, and Amazonian Brazil).

The color differences noted by Maguire and Wurdack in the field could not be ascertained from the herbarium labels at our disposal. They stated the tepals of the extreme savanna form to be basally white with orange stripes, whereas their extreme woodland form had solid orange tepals.

The flowers of Schiekia have a definitely zygomorphic perianth, the three abaxial tepals and the three adaxial tepals being basally connate creating a slightly bilabiate appearance of the flower, the lips being separated by basal slitlike pouches (Fig. 1 IB). The abaxial tepals forming the “lower lip” of the flower we found to be definitely reflexed in specimens of subsp, silvestris, but in plants belonging in subsp, orinocensis the three abaxial tepals together with the adaxial ones form quite a tubular flower (Fig. 9B). The reflexed tepals may function as a landing platform for pollinators in subsp, silvestris, the differently shaped flower of subsp, orinocensis suggests a different pollinator. If this phenomenon is constant for the subspecies, it obviously has to be studied in the field.
Distribution:Colombia South America| Vaupés Colombia South America| Venezuela South America| Amazonas Venezuela South America| Delta Amacuro Venezuela South America| Guyana South America| Suriname South America| French Guiana South America| Brazil South America| Amazonas Brazil South America| Pará Brazil South America| Roraima Brazil South America|