Short Communication
Short Communication
The first report of Nervilia lilacea Jum. & H. Perrier (Orchidaceae, Epidendroideae) from Kenya and the Northern Hemisphere
expand article infoJing Tian§, Vivian Kathambi§|, Peris Kamau, Geoffrey Mwachala, Itambo Malombe, Guang-Wan Hu§
‡ Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
§ Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
| University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
¶ National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
Open Access


Nervilia lilacea is recorded from Kenya as well as the Northern Hemisphere for the first time. A plate of ink drawing and a distribution map are provided based on the new collection.


Flora of Kenya, illustration of Nervilia lilacea, new record, Orchidaceae, taxonomy


Nervilia Commerson ex Gaudichaud-Beaupré in Freycinet (1829: 421) comprises ca. 80 species, distributed from tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Southwest Pacific islands (Govaerts et al. 2019). There are 15 species of Nervilia recorded in Africa (Govaerts et al. 2019). Among these species, five of them have been recorded in Kenya (Petersson 1990, 1991; Stewart and Campbell 1996; Olszewski 2004; Nusbaumer et al. 2011; Govaerts et al. 2019). In April 2018, during a field survey in Nandi Forest, N. lilacea Jumelle & Perrier (1912: 197) was collected from Kenya (the northern side of the equator) for the first time. We report it here with a plate of ink drawing and a distribution map based on the new collection.

New record

Nervilia lilacea Jum. & H.Perrier, Ann. Fac. Sci. Marseille 21(2): 197, 1912

Fig. 1

= Nervilia gassneri Börge Pett. in Nord. J. Bot. 9: 492. 1990. Type. Malawi: Southern Prov., Zomba Distr., Zomba Plateau, 1530 m, 15 July 1984. Petersson and Gassner 359 (holotype: UPS, image seen!; isotype: BP, K, image seen!, LISC, LMU, MAL, NHT, SRGH).


Madagascar: Centre, massif de Manonarivo, bois humides, 1000 m, fl., Perrier de la Bâthie 1873 (holotype: P [P00094725], image seen!).

Figure 1. 

Nervilia lilacea A plant with flower B plant with leaf (adaxial and abaxial leaf) C flower, frontal view D floral pieces dissected (a dorsal sepal b lateral petal c lateral sepal d lip) E lip F column, lateral and ventral view G anther H pollinia I capsule (Jing Tian drew it from FOKP-1530 specimen).

Specimens examined

Kenya. Nandi North District, Spetonok, 0°22'32"N, 35°00'29"E, elevation 2000 m, 22 April 2018, FOKP-1530 (EA, HIB).


Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya (new record). (Fig. 2)

Figure 2. 

Distribution map of Nervilia lilacea, with the new collection FOKP-1530 shown by a red star [other points re-drawn after Petersson (1990, 1991) and specimen records]

Habitat and phenology

Tropical rain forest floor margins at elevation 200–2000 m a.s.l.. Flowering from March to April was observed in Kenya.


Thanks to the Kenya Forest Service for the permission of field investigation. This work was supported by a grant from Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, CAS (SAJC201614).


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