1 Ludisia discolor 1

Ludisia discolor.

Synonyms include Anoectochilus dawsonianus, Gonogona discolor, Haemaria dawsoniana, H. discolor, Ludisia dawsoniana and Orchiodes discolor.
Black jewel orchids grow from a fleshy creeping rhizome (underground stem).
New erect shoots from the rhizome lead to the formation of tight clumps.

There are up to 5 close alternately arranged leaves at the base.
Leaves are elliptic to lance-shaped and up to 7 cm long and 3 cm wide.
The base of the 1 to 2 cm long petiole sheaths the stem.
The fleshy blade has a pointed tip and a tapering base.
The finely hairy upper surface can be a metallic or iridescent blackish-green, deep purple green, dark green, purplish brown, deep maroon, red or coppery.
The smooth lower surface is pale red or burgundy.

There is a mid-vein and around 5 pairs of arching side veins all from the base plus some smaller ones with patterns varying between leaves.
Veins can be silvery, yellow, white, green, pink or red.

Each plant has one erect inflorescence up to 30 cm high with a few to many small flowers.
The hairy peduncle has 2 or 3 reddish bracts up to 1.5 cm long.
The bracts, with tiny marginal hairs sheath the stem.
The up to 8 cm long rachis or midrib holds a few up to 20 flowers.
The spikes are a raceme with the lower flowers opening first.

The asymmetric triangular-shaped flowers are resupinate (upside down).
White, sometimes tinged with red they have 3 sepals and 3 petals.

The 2 ovate lateral sepals, 10 mm long and 5 mm wide spread sideways or backwards.
The dorsal sepal, 8 mm long and 5 mm wide, is fused with the lateral petals to form a hood over the column.

The twisted lower petal or lip, around 1 cm long is attached to the sides of the column.
The base of the lip has 2 shallow sacs with 2 fleshy calli.
The 2 mm long middle section has erect edges.
The end section is enlarged into a transversely oblong tip around 5 mm wide.

The yellow club-shaped column, around 5 mm long is twisted in the opposite direction to the lip.
The rostellum is triangular and, after the viscidium has been removed it may be cleft or 2 lobed.

There are 4 pollinia and the stigma lobes are joined.
The ovary, including its short stalk is up to 2 cm long and both are hairy.

There are a few cultivars.