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Genus Epipogium

Genus Epipogium

Epipogium R.Br., Prodr. (1810) 330


  • Genus Ceratopsis Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl. (1840) 383
  • Genus Galera Blume, Bijdr. (1825) 415
  • Genus Podanthera Wight, Icon. Pl. Ind. Or. 5 (1851) 22. t. 1759

Leafless sympodial terrestrial plants lacking chlorophyll, with tuber-like or coral-like rhizomes. Inflorescence a many-flowered raceme (in tropical Asia; elsewhere also one- to few-flowered). Flowers small, resupinate or not, yellowish or whitish, ephemeral. Sepals free. Petals free, similar to the sepals. Lip spurred [abnormal unspurred forms appear to be fairly frequent locally], not mobile. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, granular, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present. Ovary strongly swollen at anthesis, distinctly stalked.

Species present in New Guinea:

Epipogium roseum

Tropical Africa, Europe, continental Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, east to Fiji. Two or three species; in New Guinea one, non-endemic, species [Epipogium roseum (D. Don) Lindl.].

Terrestrial in lower montane forest.

  • Subfamily Epidendroideae
  • Tribe Nervilieae
  • Subtribe Epipogiinae
  • Genus Epipogium
  • Docters van Leeuwen, W.M. 1937. The biology of Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl. Blumea, Suppl. 1: 57-65.

Epipogium roseum, the only species occurring in New Guinea, can be compared to a mushroom, as it appears and disappears very quickly. The inflorescence is known to grow, flower, set fruit, and die within a week. Like all leafless terrestrials, which are often wrongly called 'saprophytes', they are almost impossible to grow as they are dependent on the presence of a certain fungus in the soil.

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Genus Epipogium

Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl., flowers, photo J. Comber, ex Dorowati

Genus Epipogium

Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl., photo E.F. de Vogel, from Java, Mt. Salak

Genus Epipogium

Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl., habit, photo N.E.G. Cruttwell, based on Cruttwell (5/78, PNG, E.H. Prov., Nambaiyufa)

Genus Epipogium

Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl., drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 23, from Bulolo