Family Orchidaceae Subfamily Orchidoideae

Family Orchidaceae Subfamily Orchidoideae

Orchidoideae Lindl., Coll. Bot., App. (1826). Type genus: Orchis L.


  • Subfamily Ophrydoideae Burnett, Outlines Bot. (1835) 461, as Subtypus Ophrydeae; Garay in Bot. Mus. Leafl. Harvard Univ. 19 (3) (1960) 87. Type genus: Ophrys L.
  • Subfamily Spiranthoideae Dressler, Selbyana 5 (1979) 204; Orch.: Nat. Hist. Class., 166 (1981) 176. Type genus: Spiranthes L.C. Rich.

Terrestrials or rarely epiphytes , sometimes holo-mycotrophic terrestrials with colourless scale leaves. Root tubers or stem tubers absent or ovoid, spherical, ellipsoidal or cylindric-fusiform, solitary or in clusters, hairy or glabrous. Rhizomes absent or fleshy, short to elongate. Leaves spirally arranged, 1 to many, basal or arranged along the stem, deciduous or rarely persistent for more than 1 year, the lower ones and/or the upper ones often scale-like; leaf sheath often present. Inflorescence terminal, erect or arching, 1- to many-flowered; peduncle usually terete, glabrous, hairy or glandular; floral bracts linear, lanceolate, ovate or elliptic, sometimes cucullate, usually glabrous. Flowers small to large, usually resupinate, spirally arranged, rarely secund; pedicel usually short, often obscure. Median sepal free or often adnate to the petals, united in a hood over the column. Lateral sepals usually free, sometimes connate and oblique at the base, rarely adnate to the base of the column, the lip, the stigma lobes or the rostellum; mentum if present spur-like. Petals entire or 2-lobed, often adnate to the median sepal. Lip usually deflexed, entire, 3­ or 5-lobed, or bipartite, occasionally with calli or with 2 basal glands, often at the base saccate or with a spur, scrotiform, fusiform, club-shaped or cylindrical, rarely adnate to the ovary. Column free or rarely at the base adnate to the other floral segments, erect or decumbent; anther 2-locular, as long as or longer than the rostellum, loculi either adnate, divergent or separated on a more or less broad connective; pollinia 2 or 4, sectile, attached by short to elongate cauclicles to 1 or 2 viscidia; staminodes 2, usually present, sessile or stalked, usually shorter than the column, rarely filiform and as long as or longer; stigma entire or 2-lobed, concave to convex; rostellum usually 2- or 3-lobed, shorter than or as long as the anther, sometimes obscure, when 3-lobed the midlobe erect or porrect, lying between or in front of the anther !oculi, the lateral lobes short to long, porrect, rarely incurved or upcurved. Ovary distinct, glabrous or less frequently hairy/glandular.
(after Cribb 2001)

Subfamily Orchidoideae contains 7 tribes with c. 3650 species distributed almost ubiquitous except in deserts in North America, and tropical and temperate South America, Europe, tropical and South Africa, Madagascar, temperate and tropical Asia, Malesia, tropical and temperate Australia, the Pacific Islands and New Zeaand; in New Guinea XX tribes.

  • Cribb, P.J., Subfamily Orchidoideae. In Pridgeon, A.M., P.J. Cribb, M.W. Chase & F.N. Rasmussen (edit.), Genera Orchidacearum 2, Orchidoideae (Part One) (2001) 6.
  • Family Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily Orchidoideae

A large number of the taxa that were earlier placed in the Neottioideae are nowadays included in Orchidoideae (but not the type genus of the Neottioideae: Neottia).

Subfamily Orchidoideae in New Guinea contains 7 Tribes; in New Guinea 4 Tribes:



1a. Viscidium 1. Pollinia sectile or not, usually without caudicles. Column usually constricted at the base of the anther == 2
1b. Viscidia usually 2. Pollinia sectile, usually with more or less prominent caudicles. Column not constricted at the base of the anther == 3

2a. Column slender, elongate, curved, with retrorse, axe-shaped apical wings on either side of the anther. Lip with a basal appendage, under tension, lanced upwards when touched == Tribe Pterostylideae
2b. Column not slender and curved, without such wings. Lip not mobile, without a basal appendage == Tribe Diurideae

3a. Anther erect. Lip without or with a single basal spur == Tribe Orchideae
3b. Anther bent backwards or recumbent. Spurs single, various, or 2 if formed by the lip == Tribe Diseae

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