Family Orchidaceae Subfamily Cypripedioideae

Family Orchidaceae Subfamily Cypripedioideae

Cypripedioideae Garay in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 19 (1960) 86. Type species: Cypripedium calceolus L.


  • Cypripedia Spreng., Anleit II, 1, 298 (1817). Type species: Cypripedium calceolus L.
  • Cypripedieae Lindl., Orch. Sceletos: 1 (1826) 18. Type species: Cypripedium calceolus L.
  • Cypripedilinae Pfitzer, Morph. Stud. Orch. Blüte (1886) 108; Nat. Ord. Orchid.: 12 (1888) 95; In Engl. & Prantl, Pflanzenr II, 6 (1889) 765, 82; in Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 19 (1894) 31; 25 (1898) 518, 525; in Engler, Pflanzenr. IV, 50. Orch. Pleonandr. (1901) 9. Type species: Cypr

Terrestrials, lithophytes or epiphytes, small to medium size, herbaceous. Roots elongate, fibrous. Rhizome short to elongate. Shoots not branched, very short to long, erect, clustered or sometimes wide apart, glabrous, 1- to many-leaved, the lower part enclosed by 2 to several blade-less sheaths. Leaves relatively thin, fleshy or coriaceous, plicate or conduplicate, spreading or suberect, ovate, lanceolate, elliptic, ligulate, or oblong; apex obtuse, acute or acuminate, often with 3-denticulate tip; glabrous or variously pubescent; margins glabrous or ciliate. Inflorescence terminal, 1- to many-flowered; rachis terete, glabrous, hairy or glandular; bracts conduplicate, linear, elliptic, lanceolate, or ovate or oblong, green, sometimes spotted or flushed or striped with purple, glabrous, pubescent or glandular, ciliate or not. Flowers usually showy, 1- or more-coloured. Pedicel obscure to short; ovary 1- or 3-locular, placentation parietal or axillary; 3-ribbed; glabrous or hairy. Median sepal erect to hooded over the lip, ovate, lanceolate, obovate or elliptic; apex obtuse, acute or acuminate; outside glabrous or pubescent, sometimes inside at the base pubescent; margin ciliate or not. Lateral sepals usually fused to form a concave synsepalum which more or less resembles the dorsal sepal, rarely free to the base; apex entire or bifid; outside sometimes with 2 keels. Petals free, flat, inflexed or reflexed, spreading or pendent, twisted or not, elliptic, ovate, lanceolate, linear-lanceolate, linear or oblanceolate; apex rounded, obtuse, acute or acuminate, glabrous or rarely pubescent on outer surface, often pubescent in basal half on inner surface, usually ciliate on margins, sometimes warty on the margins. Lip slipper-shaped or urn-shaped with a deep and inflated pouch, with more or less pronounced, incurved, sometimes warty lateral lobes which are sometimes reduced to auricles or more rarely without lateral lobes; outside glabrous or hairy, inside hairy, especially on the lower surface; front margin incurved or not, sometimes with short marginal horns. Column short, stalked, porrect; stamens 2, lateral on the column; filaments short, obtuse to acute; anthers 2-locular; pollen powdery or viscid; staminode terminal on the column, sessile or short stalked, often shield-like, rarely reduced or absent, transversely reniform, oblong, ovate, obcordate or linear, flat, convex or longitudinally conduplicate, the apex entire, bifid or tripartite, glabrous to papillose or finely pubescent, the margin ciliate or not; stigma stalked or subsessile, dependent, 3-partite, more or less papillose. Fruit erect to pendent, 3-ribbed, cylindrical to almost ellipsoid, sometimes beaked. Seeds spherical to ellipsoid, with a thin testa, in Selenipedium the testa is hard and dark coloured.
(after Cribb 1999)

Subfamily Cypripedioideae consists of 5 genera in the temperate regions of Eurasia and North America, Central America south to Brazil and Bolivia, in tropical Asia from India through mainland Southeast Asia and Southwest China to Taiwan, Malesia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands; in New Guinea 1 genus with 4 species:

Paphiopedilum glanduliferum
Paphiopedilum papuanum
Paphiopedilum violascens
Paphiopedilum wilhelminae

  • Albert, V. A. Cladistic relationships of the slipper orchids (Cypripedioideae: Orchidaceae) from congruent morphological and molecular data. Lindleyana 9 (1994). 115-132.
  • Albert, V. A. and Chase, M. W. Mexipedium: a new genus of slipper orchid (Cypripedioideae: Orchidaceae). Lindleyana 7 (1992) 172-176.
  • Albert, V. A. and Pettersson, B. Expansion of genus Paphiopedilum to include all conduplicate-leaved slipper orchids (Cypripedioideae: Orchidaceae), Lindleyana 9 (1994) 133-40.
  • Atwood, J. T. The relationships of the slipper orchids (subfamily Cypripedioideae, Orchidaceae). Selbyana 7 (1984) 129-247.
  • Brieger, F. G. Selenipedium. In Die Orchideen (3rd ed.), (edit. R. Schlechter) (1973) 3--4.
  • Cribb, P.J. Subfamily Cypripedioideae, in Pridgeon, A.M., P.J. Cribb, M.W. Chase & F.N. Rasmussen (edit.), Genera Orchidacearum Vol. 1, General Introduction, Apostasioifeae, Cypripedioideae (2001) 105.
  • Garay, L. A. Selenipedium. In G. Harling and B. Sparre (ed.), Flora of Ecuador 9 (1978) 12-13.
  • Kränzlin, F. Cypripedium L. Orchidacearum Genera et Species I (1901) 11-86.
  • Lindley, J. Cypripedium. In Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants (1840) 525-532.
  • Rolfe, R. A. The Cypripedium group. Orchid Review 4 (1896) 327-34, 363-367.
  • Family Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily Cypripedioideae

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Family Orchidaceae Subfamily Cypripedioideae

Paphiopedilum wilhelminae L.O.Williams, flower, oblique front view, photo E.F. de Vogel, based on Leiden cult. 20020344