Ansellia africana used to be called A. gigantea. It is monotypic, the only species of its genus. There are several flower colour varieties of this plant, some with many or few, large or small, maroon or brown markings, while yet others are just yellow, unspotted. The spotted forms have earned the plant the common name of leopard orchid.
A. africana is a large perennial epiphyte that grows dense clumps on branches of trees where they are attached by masses of white aerial roots. Occasionally it grows terrestrially. The plant multiplies pseudobulbs tightly bound together above the mat of upwardly pointing aerial roots. A few alternate, lance-shaped leaves, leathery, curving and sheathed at the base, grow from the top of each pseudobulb.
The distribution of A. africana is in the northeast of South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal and the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It is also widespread in Africa south of the Sahara, supporting the emergence of forms and varieties in a range of even contrasting habitats.
The habitat is hot and both humid and dry forest conditions. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
The plant features widely in ethno-medicine (http://orchids.wikia.com; www.orchidspecies.com; http://redlist.sanbi.org).