Mexipedium xerophyticum (Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hagsater)V.A. Albert & M.W. Chase
in Lindleyana 7: 173, 1992.
Phragmipedium xerophyticum Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hagsater in Orquidea 12: 1, 1990.
Paphiopedilum xerophyticum (Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hagsater)V.A. Albert & Börge Pettersson in Lindleyana 9(2): 137, 1994.
Etymology : The specific epithet xerophyticum points to the relatively dry habitat in which this species grows and the vegetative morphology the plants have.
Plant : The xeromorphic plants are relatively small and have clearly visible elongated rhizomes between the individual shoots.
Leaves : The leaves are fleshy, short and quite rigid and are placed in small fans.
Inflorescence : The inflorescence has 2 abbreviated racemes and is strongly covered in hairs.
Flower : The tiny flowers are approximately 1,5 - 2,0 cm in diameter. They are white with a pinkish glow over them. They have linear-ligulate petals, a calceolate subglobose. inflated lip, and a unilocular ovary with parietal placentation.
Habitat : The natural habitat is one with a very diverse vegetation. On the mountainsides that slope down to the Golf of Mexico, at a height of 320 m there is as is to be expected in this warm and humid region, an evergreen jungle. But next to that there are also vast forests of tropical oak and evergreen coniferous trees. It's a very stony region with a xerophytic vegetation like Yucca, Agava, Beaucarnea, Bursera simarumba, Plumeria rubra and Pseudobombax ellipticum.
Mexipedium xerophyticum is a very rare, rock dwelling species.
Distribution : This species is endemic in Mexico. It is only known from one growing site in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Flowering season :
History : All the time plant material is send to the herbarium of the Mexican Orchid Society (Asociación de Mexicana de Orquideologia - AMO) for determination. Among this plant material a certain plant caught the attention. Although no flower was present it was almost certain that is was a member of the Cypripedioidea. Xerox-copies were send to specialists all over the world. Shortly after Rolando Jiminez could confirm that is was a member of the Cypripedioidea and that it was possibly a new species of the genus Phragmipedium, after he had seen a flowering specimen from the same collection. Because of the importance of this new discovery an excursion to the natural habitat was organized. After meeting with the collector of the original material, Mr. Heriberto Hernandez, it was possible to collect living specimens. And so in 1990 Miguel Angel Soto, Gerardo A. Salazar and Eric Hagsater published in Orquidea, the bulletin of the Mexican Orchid Society, a description of this new species of Phragmipedium, that did not compare with any known species of this genus. The authors mention that this species is very different in size, growth and flower shape from any known species at that time. They also mention that certain features of this species resemble features which are only known from several species in the genus Cypripedium and from Paphiopedilum micranthum Tang & Wang and it's close relatives. In this publication they also specifically refrain from giving the precise growing location, because they fear that overcollection of this new and very rare species could lead to its immediate extinction.
In 1992 Victor Albert and Mark Chase publish in Lindleyana their reclassification which places this species in a new genus called Mexipedium.
Comments : This species seems to be an intermediate form in-between the genera Cypripedium and Phragmipedium.