Snake's head restrepiella

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Snake's head restrepiella
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Liliopsida
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Order: Asparagales
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Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
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Tribe: Epidendreae
Subtribe: Pleurothallidinae
Genus: Restrepiella
Garay & Dunst.
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Species: R. ophiocephala
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Binomial name
Restrepiella ophiocephala
(Lindl., 1838) Garay & Dunst., 1966
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Type Species

The snake's head restrepiella (Restrepiella ophiocephala) is a species of orchid and the only species of the genus Restrepiella. The orchid is known from Mexico to Costa Rica, occurring in damp forests alongside rivers at low altitude (40-1,600 m). It is morphologically similar to Restrepia, but differs in lacking hairlike attachments on a mobile lip and having 4 pollinia instead of two.

The epithet ophiocephala is derived from the Greek words ophis (snake) and cephalos' (head).

It grows from a short, creeping rhizome as a tufted, robust epiphyte to a length between 8 and 35 cm. The stout, cylindrical stem is erect and about 15 cm long and has a tubular bract. The fleshy, oblanceolate leaves are 8 to 18 cm long and have a short petiole.

The tiny single flowers have a length of about 2 cm. They grow from the base of the leaves, one at a time, on up to four clustered inflorescences. They have a pale yellowish-brown color, dotted with dull purple spots. The outer surface is downy. The obovate, dorsal sepal is erect, while the lateral sepals are fused (synsepals) with a small split at their apex. The elliptic petals are much shorter and with ciliated margins. The fleshy lip is tongue-shaped.

The flowers are in bloom from winter to spring and are strongly scented.


  • Luer, C.A. (2000) Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVIII - SYSTEMATICS OF LEPANTHOPSIS, RESTREPIELLA, RESTREPIOPSIS, SALPISTELE & TEAGUEIA Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri ISBN 0-915279-79-7
  • McLeish, I., Pearce, N.R. & B.R. Adams. (1995) Native Orchids of Belize. Rotterdam, Netherlands: A.A. Balkema.

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