Kegeliella sp. photo by Dave Hunt. Pictured: a Kegeliella species from Venezuela.

The Genus Kegeliella

Reichenbach (LO Williams)

Edited 27 April 2007
© Nina Rach



The first Kegeliella species was published in 1852 by H.G. Reichenbach (Rchb.f.), Kegelia houtteana, probably based on a specimen collected in Suriname. Apparently that name had already been used for another genus (in the Asteraceae), so the diminuitive name Kegeliella was established by Rudolf Mansfeld in 1934, when he published Kegeliella kupperi in a German publication. L.O. Williams reclassified Reichenbach's type species into the new genus Kegeliella in 1942, and then published the species K. atropilosa with A.H. Heller in 1964.

Now there are four species known from Nicaragua across northern South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana). Gerlach (2000) has named the most recently identified species, Kegeliella orientalis.

These are small (to 20 cm), warm-growing epiphytic orchids from wet cloud forests. Psuedobulbs are smooth and flattened or squarish, with four sides. Each has 2-3 "broad, pleated leaves." Dressler (1993b)describes the plants as "flushed with purple," Gerlach (1999) describes the undersides (of ?)as reddish-purple. Kegeliella has a growth habit similar to Gongora, with pendent racemes of small flowers (up to about 4 cm). The lip is trilobed, with a prominent callus and a broadly wined column. Each flower bears two skinny pollina on long stipes.
The genus is named in honor of Herr Kegel, a 19th century German botanist, who worked at the University of Halle, Germany.

Kegeliella atropilosa L.O. Williams & A.H. Heller 1964.
[Nicaragua, 500-1,200 m] - known as the "black-haired" Kegeliella. Lip is single-colored yellowish or greenish, no spots. Dressler describes the column as green, the sepals and petals as "tan-yellow with or without red-brown spots and bars, lip greenish-yellow." Central America only, not found in South America. Isotype, collected by A.H. Heller, at Marie Selby Gardens Herbarium (SEL).
According to Dressler (1993b), Kegeliella atropilosa and Kegeliella houtteana were inappropriatly considered synonymous. Gerlach (1999) distinguishes K. atropilosa as being from Central America, and K. houtteana as found only in eastern South America.

Kegeliella houtteana (Rchb.f.) L.O. Williams 1942.
[Panama, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana] - Gerlach describes the sepals and petals as light green; lip green. Extremely rare, native to Suriname, Venezuela, Trinidad, and Brazil (Para State).

Kegeliella kupperi Mansfeld 1934.
[Belize; Costa Rica; Panama; 700-750 m] - known as "Kupper's Kegeliella." This species has dark speckles on the lip. Sepals and petals are greenish brown with some small speckles. Gerlach (1999) says that it is found in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia (Department Choco), and Venezuela (Tachira State).

Kegeliella orientalis G. Gerlach 2000.
[Venezuela] According to IPNI, the type specimen was found by G.C.K.Dunsterville in "Fairly tall forest near Guayaraca on trail to Danto, 1,100 m, Bolívar [State], Venezuela." The holotype is in the Orchid Herbarium of Oakes Ames at Harvard University (AMES); isotypes are in the Herbarium at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew(K) and at the Herbarium of the Botanische Staatssammlung München(M).

AOS Awards:
Kegeliella atropilosa 'Evets' CBR/AOS, awarded in Atlanta in October 1992.
"Six flowers on two slightly hirsute inflorescences; sepals and petals light chartreuse with rust to brown bars and spots; lip yellow with reddish-brown spots on either side of the callus; column winged, green. Nat. spr. 2.0 cm, 3.7 cm vert; ds 0.6 cm w, 2.2 cm l; pet 0.1 cm w, 1.4 cm l; ls 0.5 cm, 2.2 cm l; lip 1.0 cm w, 1.2 cm l." Awards Quarterly 24(3): 182; black and white picture.

Kegeliella houtteana 'Vera Cruz' CHM/AOS [provisional], awarded at Houton Judging Center, Dec. 18, 2004. Plant from Venezuela. [photo above left]

Kegeliella kupperi 'Beaver Valley' CBM/AOS, 81 points, awarded in Philadelphia in October 1965. Register of Awaeds 5: 880.

Kegeliella kupperi 'Sweet Victoria' CHM/AOS 80 points, awarded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in September 1997. Aq 29: 152. No photo.

Printed References:

Paul A. Allen (1949) in: Woodson and Schery, Flora of Panama, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 36: 43. [K. houtteana, kupperi]

Oakes Ames & D.S. Correll (1985 reprint) Orchids of Guatemala and Belize. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 779 pp.

Margaret A. Dix and Michael W. Dix (2000) Orchids of Guatemala: A Revised Annotated Checklist, 61 pp.

Robert L. Dressler (1967) "Observations on orchids and euglossine bees in Panama and Costa Rica," in: Rev. Biol. Trop. 15: 143-183. [K. atropillosa]

Robert L. Dressler (1993a) Phylogeny and Classification of the Orchid Family. Portland: Dioscorides Press, 314 pp.

Robert L. Dressler (1993b) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 304 pp., 240 illustrations.

Robert L. Dressler and W. Mark Whitten (July 1992) "Kegeliella," in: American Orchid Society Bulletin 61(7): 684-687.

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1961) Venezuelan Orchids Illustrated Vol. 2. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd.

G.C.K. Dunsterville and Leslie A. Garay (1979) Orchids of Venezuela, An Illustrated Field Guide Vol. 2. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd.

Guenther Gerlach (1999) "80. Subtribus: Stanhopeinae und 81. Subtribus: Coeliopsidinae (Teil 1)," in: Schlechter, Die Orchideen, Band I, Teil C, Lieferung 37/38, 128 p. with 142 B&W illustrations, in German.

Guenther Gerlach (2000) "Kegeliella orientalis G. Gerlach sp. nov.," in: Romero and Carnevali: Orchids of Venezuela, An Illustrated Field Guide. Second Ed.: 1137.

Guenther Gerlach (2001) "Die Subtribus Stanhopeinae - 3. Horichia bis Lacaena," in: Journal für den Orchideenfreund 8(2): 105-118.

Fritz Hamer (22 December 1988) "Orchids of Central America, An Illustrated Field Guide (A-L)," in: Selbyana 10: 1-422.

Rudolf Jenny (1982) "Die Gongorinae, 7. Kegeliella," in: Orchidee 33: 130-139.

Rudolf Jenny (1988) "Notwendige Neotypificationen in der Subtribus Gongorinae," in: Orchidee 39: 180-186.

Rudolf Jenny (1989) "Kegeliella kupperi," in: Orchidee 40: Orchideenkartei 573-574.

C.H. Lankester (June 1918 and June 1968 reprint) Letter: Orchids of Costa Rica, in: Orchid Review.

Rudolf Mansfeld (1934) "Kegeliella kupperi," in: Repertorium Speciarum Novarum Regni Veg. 36: 60.

H.G. Reichenbach (1852) "Kegelia houtteana."

H.G. Reichenbach (1854) Kegelia houtteana drawing published in Xenia Orchidacea.

R. Romero and Carnevali (2000) Orchids of Venezuela, An Illustrated Field Guide. Second Ed.: 1137.

L.O. Williams (1942) "Kegeliella houtteana" in: .

L.O. Williams and A.H. Heller (1964) "Kegeliella atropilosa" in: Fieldiana, Botany 31: 39. [collected in Nicaragua]

L.W. Williams (1982) "Kegeliella atropilosa," in: Die Orchidee 33: 135.
Isotype from Nicaragua, collected by A. H. Heller, specimen 6511, at Marie Selby Gardens; see,3000,134132

Online References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Missouri Botanic Garden, Flora of Panama, [Kegeliella houtteana and Kegeliella kupperi]

Three specimens of Kegeliella houtteana are among the collections at Herbier de Guyane (CAY), French Guiana:
The first (No. 120) was collected and identified by R.O. Determann, in 1979:
Two others (No. 12384; No. 13203), collected by G. Cremers and J.J. de Granville, were identified by Gunther Gerlach, in 1998 and 1999. The were collected in flower on June 10, 1991 at Crique Kapiri - R.N. 2, Bassin de l'Approuague - Guyane française; and on April 20, 1003 at 550 m elevation, Monts Bakra, Région des Emerillon - Guyane française, respectively.

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