Disa is a genus in the family Orchidaceae and is mostly found in southern and eastern Africa. Species are deciduous or evergreen terrestrial plants with both tuberous and stoloniferous root systems. They are found from sea level to about 7000 feet. Species E-N are found on this page.
Disa filicornis is a small species that grows on mountain slopes in the winter rainfall region. It blooms in spring to summer. An article by S.D. Johnson reported that the species is pollinated by male mason bees. Since the flowers do not have nectar, the author speculated that the flowers may fool the bees by resembling other plants that do have nectar, or they may mimic female mason bees. Photo taken by Christopher Whitehouse at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve near Stanford.
Disa fragrans is found on mountain grassland, on rock sheets, around rock pools and on cliff ledges from 1800 to 3000 m from the Eastern Cape to Tanzania. Leaves can have purplish red spots or bars. Flowers are small, white to deep pink, mottled darker pink. Photos by Cameron McMaster, Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner taken January 2010 at Naude's Nek. Photos 5-6 taken by Cameron McMaster at Mafika-Lisiu Pass in Lesotho and at Sentinel Peak in the Eastern Cape.
Disa graminifolia Ker Gawl. ex Spreng., syn. Herschelianthe graminifolia, is a species with 4 to 6 basal grasslike leaves and 2 to 6 sweetly scented flowers with bright blue to violet-purple sepals, petals that are mauve-purple and green, and a purple-violet streaked lip. It grows from 50 cm to 1 meter and is found on dry sunny mountain slopes in dense vegetation in the southwestern Cape. It blooms January to March and is pollinated by carpenter bees. Photos by Ragnhild Crawford and Cameron McMaster taken at Napier in the Overberg.
Disa hians, syn. Herschelianthe hians, grows from 30 to 60 cm and is found in gravely flats and sandstone slopes in the southern and southeastern Cape. It flowers from late spring to early summer, usually after fire. The few flowers in a lax raceme are pale to purple-blue with a lip darker than sepals. Photo taken by Cameron McMaster in the Eastern Cape.
Disa karooica was previously included in Disa draconis. It grows to 60 cm and has cream flowers with purple streaks on the petals. Leaves are dry at flowering. It is found in the Karoo and the Roggeveld (Kamiesberg and Sutherland). Photo taken by Rod Saunders.
Disa lugens, syn. Herschelianthe lugens is found on sandstone slopes from the Cape peninsula to Grahamstown. Cream-green flowers appear in spring. Photos by Cameron McMaster taken in the Eastern Cape.
Disa nervosa is found in rocky grassland from the Eastern Cape to Mpumalanga. Growing to 80 cm, it has slender leaves and bright pink flowers with dense purple spots at the petal tips. The flowers are held horizontally and the lip is long and narrow. This species blooms in summer to early fall. Photo by Rod Saunders.
Disa nivea is found on moist grassy slopes and rock ledges in the Drakensberg at 2250-2500 m. It grows from 20 to 40 cm and has creamy white flowers with dark red blotches at the tips of the sepals and lip and a speckled dark red spur. It blooms in summer. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster at Aurora Peak, Maclear, February 2008.