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 S-Z are found on this page.
Disa sagittalis (L.f.) Sw. is an almost evergreen species found on rocks, along streams, growing in shade in the Southern and Eastern Cape, Transkei and southern Natal. Flowers are small, white to mauve with darker petals. Photos #1-2 by Cameron McMaster taken at Mt.Thomas in the Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Photos #3-4 taken on Gaika's Kop January 2010 by Cameron McMaster and Bob Rutemoeller. Photo #5 taken by Christopher Whitehouse January 2012 also at Gaika's Kop.
Disa salteri G.J.Lewis is widespread and occurs from Namaqualand to the Eastern Cape on shale or sandstone. Growing to 60 cm, it has grass-like leaves dry at flowering in autumn and tiny yellowish-brown flowers with a long spur. Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa schlechteriana Bolus, syn. Herschelia schlechteriana, is endemic to the Little Karoo where it grows in rocky loamy soils in fynbos on northern slopes in the mountains. Growing to 80 cm when in flower in summer, this species has creamy white flowers marked with dark blue-purple lines. Photos from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa scullyi Bolus is a summer rainfall species found in marshes and swamps in the Eastern Cape. It grows to 50 cm and has 2-4 erect leaves and beautiful spreading pink or white flowers with a green lip. It blooms in summer. Photo by Rod Saunders.
Disa spathulata (L.f.) Sw., syn. Herschelia spathulata, is found in damp sites and in well drained soils in shale and sandstone in sunlight from Namaqualand south to Caledon. Growing to 30 cm, it has flat linear leaves, green at flowering, and flowers that can be white, yellowish green, red or purple with a long thin broad tipped lip. It flowers September to October on a 1 to 4 flowered inflorescence.
Disa spathulata subsp. tripartita (Lindl.) H.P.Linder is found from Worcester to Tulbagh and the Little Karoo between Oudtshoorn and Joubertina. It is very rare and decreasing because of agricultural expansion and overgrazing. It has white flowers marked with maroon, blue, brown, and green markings with a prominent lip with three large lobes. Photos from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa stachyoides Rchb.f. is a very common summer rainfall species found in grassland up to 2800 meters from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo province. It has small purple flowers with a white lip and a long broad flat almost horizontal spur. Photos taken January 2010 near Maclear by Cameron McMaster, Bob Rutemoeller, and Mary Sue Ittner.
Disa stricta Sond. is found on grassy slopes and damp floodplains. Flowers are pink to lilac with a darker lip. Photos by Cameron McMaster taken on Mt. Thomas in the Eastern Cape in the Amatola Mountains, South Africa.
Disa thodei Schltr. ex Kraenzl. is a slender species growing to 30 cm found along streams, in damp alpine grassland in the Eastern Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal from 1800 to 3000 meters. It has 3 to 8 white to mauve mottled pink flowers and is strongly scented. This species blooms December to January. Photos taken in January at Tiffendell and Naude's Nek by Cameron McMaster and at Naude's Nek by Bob Rutemoeller, and Mary Sue Ittner.
Disa tripetaloides (L.f.) N.E.Br. occurs mostly along streams or on damp mountain slopes from sea level to 1000 m from the Southwestern Cape to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Growing to 60 cm and spreading by stolons to form colonies, it has narrow rounded basal leaves and white to blotchy pink flowers clustered at the top of the inflorescence. It flowers in summer. Photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa uncinata Bolus is an evergreen species that grows alongside perennial mountain streams in acid sandstone soil in the southwestern Cape. Growing up to 50 cm and flowering in summer, flowers are creamy white with no markings with a small club-shaped spur. The first photograph was taken in the Phillipskop Mountain Reserve by Christopher Whitehouse. The second photo from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa uniflora P.J.Bergius or The Pride of Table Mountain is probably the most noteworthy example of the genus. It is an evergreen species from the western and southwestern Cape of South Africa. Growing to a height of around three feet, and commonly bearing up to six, 4 to 5 inch red, orange or pink flowers, it can be truly a gorgeous sight. The first two photos are of Disa uniflora in a Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden greenhouse. The next two show different striking cultivars. The first four photos by Rogan Roth. The fifth photo from Ragnhild Crawford was taken at Betty's Bay. The last photo was taken by Rod Saunders.
Disa venosa Sw. is found in seeps on sandstone slopes from the Cedarberg and Cape Penisnsula to the Outeniqua Mountians. It is similar to Disa racemosa, but smaller. It flowers in November, mainly after fire. Photo from Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.
Disa versicolor Rchb.f. grows in grassland in tropical and southern Africa from the Eastern Cape to Angola and Zimbabwe. It grows to 70 cm and has flowers crowded in a dense spike that are pink in bud, but soon turn brown. It flowers December to February. Photo #1 by Cameron McMaster taken on Mt. Thomas in the Eastern Cape in the Amatola Mountains, South Africa. The other photos were taken at Satansnek Pass January 2010 by Cameron McMaster and Mary Sue Ittner.