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Genus Oberonia

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia Lindl., Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl. (1830) 15

Synonyms:

  • Genus Iridorchis Thouars, Nouv. Bull. Sci. Soc. Philom. Paris 19 (1809) 314
  • Genus Iridorkis Thouars, Nouv. Bull. Sci. Soc. Philom. Paris 19 (1809) 319
  • Genus Titania Endl., Prodr. Fl. Norf. (1833) 31

Sympodial epiphytes, rhizome absent or sometimes well-developed and elongated. Stem very short to elongated, few- to many-leaved. Leaves arranged in two rows, sheathing at the base, glabrous, laterally flattened, either or not articulated with the sheath, duplicate, leathery. Inflorescence terminal, a many-flowered raceme, with the flowers from the apical part of the inflorescence opening first. Flowers small to minute, resupinate or not, often arranged in whorls, green, brown, orange(-red), yellow, or whitish. Sepals free. Petals free, distinctly different from the sepals. Lip without spur, not mobile. Column very short. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 4, solid, caudicles absent, stipe absent, viscidium absent.


Tropics of Africa (one species only) and Asia, east to the Tuamotu Archipelago. About 300 species; in New Guinea c. 90 species.

Epiphyte in lowland and montane forest, much less frequent at high elevations.

  • Pridgeon, A. M., P.J. Cribb, M.W. Chase & F.N. Rasmussen (Eds.). 2005. Genera Orchidacearum, Volume 4: Epidendroideae (Part one). Pp. 475-478. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Seidenfaden, G. 1978. Orchid genera in Thailand VII: Oberonia Lindl. & Malaxis Sol.ex Sw. Dansk Bot. Ark. 33, 1: 1-94.
  • Subfamily Epidendroideae
  • Tribe Malaxideae
  • Genus Oberonia

Oberonia is a highly characteristic genus, easily recognised by the laterally flattened leaves and the terminal rat tail-like inflorescences with generally tiny flowers. In New Guinea the only other genus with this combination of characters is Hippeophyllum. This differs in that the column is relatively slender and the lip is 3-lobed with the mid-lobe abruptly bent downward. Moreover, Hippeophyllum has distinct creeping rhizomes, which is exceptional in Oberonia, being found only in some species of sect. Otoglossum. Species of Octarrhena are sometimes mistakenly identified as Oberonia spp., since they are superficially similar, but Octarrhena is easily distinguished by the lateral inflorescences, apart from floral details.

Most species of Oberonia are easily cultivated, but their ornamental value is limited since the flowers, apart from being tiny, are usualy rather dull coloured. As with many small-flowered orchids, however, the flowers are often truly exquisite when viewed in close-up.

Oberonia is badly in need of revision, many species are hard to identify and the sectional classification should be re-evaluated in the light of molecular evidence. While attempting to identify material of this genus we very often failed to make an unequivocal match with any described species. This may indicate that some species should be considered to be rather variable, but it undoubtedly also hints at the presence of a good number of undescribed species. It is likely that some widespread species will eventually be found in New Guinea, such as Oberonia equitans (G.Forst.) Mutel, O. imbricata (Blume) Lindl. ( [Picture] 431-170T.JPG ), O. monstruosa (Blume) Lindl. ( [Picture] 431-272T.JPG ), and Oberonia padangensis Schltr. ( [Picture] 431-131T.JPG ), but at present we have not seen reliable records or material of these species from our area. The Fijian Oberonia heliophila Rchb.f. is very similar to several New Guinea species of section Scytoxiphium, and may well occur in New Guinea (it is listed as such in our checklist on vol. I). However, having compared material from Fiji with specimens from New Guinea we have not found an exact match. The species in this section, which contains the most robust members of the genus, are exceptionally difficult to identify, even by Oberonia standards.

Prior to Schlechter, Oberonia was usually divided into two main groups: those with short stems (sect. Acaules) and those with elongated stems (sect. Caulescentes). Schlechter proposed a much more complicated, and perhaps more realistic system for the New Guinea species, which is followed here. Schlechter did not provide a key and was rather vague about the diagnostic characters involved, which to some extent we had to surmise by examining the species he assigned to the various sections.

Key to the New Guinea sections of Oberonia

1a. Leaf blades not articulated with the sheaths. Stems very short to much elongated ... 2
1b. Leaf blades articulated with the sheaths. Stems very short ... 11

2a. Stems elongated. Lip pandurate. Rachis, ovary and bracts pubescent ... Adenorhachis
2b. Not this combination of characters ... 3

3a. Stem almost absent. Lip at the base with long narrow teeth ... Arachnochilus
3b. Not this combination of characters ... 4

4a. Stem almost absent. Sepals and petals reflexed. Lip very fleshy, about rectangular in outline, often with emarginate apex ... Scytoxiphium
4b. Not this combination of characters ... 5

5a. Lip at the base relatively narrow, much widening towards the apex and there with two very broad lobes. Sepals and petals not reflexed ... Platyacron
5b. Not this combination of characters ... 6

6a. Stems rather short. Inflorescence with distinct elongated peduncle ... Podostachys
6b. Stems rather short to much elongated. Peduncle very short ... 7

7a. Stems much elongated. Flowers curved inwards towards the apex of the rachis. Basal auricles of the lip short ... 8
7b. Stems rather short to much elongated. Flowers at right angles to the stem. Basal auricles of the lip short to elongated ... 9

8a. Stems erect or patent. Leaves thick-leathery ... Hymenobractea
8b. Stems pendulous. Leaves soft and rather thin-textured ... Platystreptus

9a. Stems much elongated, with many relatively very short leaves. Lip with large basal auricles clasping the column, front margin denticulate. Petals narrow, like the sepals reflexed or revolute ... Labidous
9b. Not this combination of characters ... 10

10a. Lip at the apex with two tails or two narrow pointed teeth ... Diurium
10b. Lip otherwise ... Otoglossum

11a. Floral bracts relatively large, longer than the ovary, almost hiding the flowers ... sect. Aphananthos
11b. Floral bracts inconspicuous, not longer than the ovary == sect. Oberonia


Oberonia continc c. 300 species, in New Guinea 87 species, 2 varieties and 1 hybrid:

Oberonia alopecurus
Oberonia anguina
Oberonia arcuata
Oberonia asperula
Oberonia aurea
Oberonia bifida
Oberonia bifida var. brachyloba
Oberonia bilobata
Oberonia brevispica
Oberonia brunnea
Oberonia caprina
Oberonia cardiochila
Oberonia chenii
Oberonia cleistogama
Oberonia cordata
Oberonia crassilabris
Oberonia cryptantha
Oberonia cuneata
Oberonia diura
Oberonia djamuensis
Oberonia dolichophylla
Oberonia drepanophylla
Oberonia elegans
Oberonia falcifolia
Oberonia fallax
Oberonia finisterrae
Oberonia fissipetala
Oberonia govidjoae
Oberonia gracilipes
Oberonia heliophila
Oberonia hexaptera
Oberonia inversiflora
Oberonia irrorata
Oberonia kaernbachiana
Oberonia kaniensis
Oberonia kempfii
Oberonia kempteri
Oberonia klossii
Oberonia lancipetala
Oberonia latilabris
Oberonia ledermannii
Oberonia linearis
Oberonia linearis var. brevipetala
Oberonia longicaulis
Oberonia longispica
Oberonia longitepala
Oberonia lucida
Oberonia maboroensis
Oberonia marginata
Oberonia microphylla
Oberonia microtatantha
Oberonia muriculata
Oberonia nephroglossa
Oberonia oblonga
Oberonia odontopetala
Oberonia oligotricha
Oberonia ovalis
Oberonia pachyambon
Oberonia pachyglossa
Oberonia papillosa
Oberonia pectinata
Oberonia pedicellata
Oberonia phleoides
Oberonia platychila
Oberonia plumea
Oberonia podostachys
Oberonia punamensis
Oberonia quadrata
Oberonia radicans
Oberonia repens
Oberonia reversidens
Oberonia rhizomatosa
Oberonia rhodostachys
Oberonia rivularis
Oberonia ruberrima
Oberonia sarcophylla
Oberonia scapigera
Oberonia scytophylla
Oberonia serpentinicaulis
Oberonia serrulata
Oberonia spathipetala
Oberonia thomsenii
Oberonia torana
Oberonia torricellensis
Oberonia trigonoglossa
Oberonia truncatiglossa
Oberonia urostachya
Oberonia volucris
Oberonia wappeana
Oberonia werneri
Oberonia x hybrida


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Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Platyacron, habit, photo A. Schuiteman, based on Yumte 13

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Platyacron, inflorescence detail, photo A. Schuiteman, based on Yumte 39

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia anguina Schltr. aff., inflorescence, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O050 from PNG

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia arcuata Schltr. aff., inflorescence, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O080

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia aurea Schltr. aff., habit, photo Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, based on Edinburgh cult. 721856

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia aurea Schltr. aff., inflorescence, photo Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, based on Edinburgh cult. 721856

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia aurea Schltr. aff., flowers, photo Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, based on Edinburgh cult. 721856

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia bifida Schltr., habit, photo N.E.G. Cruttwell, from PNG, Mt. Gahavisuka

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia drepanophylla cf. Schltr., in situ, plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia drepanophylla Schltr., inflorescence part, flowers various views, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031825

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia microphylla (Blume) Lindl., plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia microphylla (Blume) Lindl., inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia microphylla (Blume) Lindl., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia muriculata cf., inflorescence, photo P.J. Cribb, from Papua (Indonesia), Baliem Valley

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia pectinata Schltr., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20032444

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia serrulata Schltr. cf. (sect. Hymenobractea), plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Woitape lodge collection, PNG

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia serrulata Schltr cf.. (sect. Hymenobractea), part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Woitape lodge collection, PNG

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia thomsenii J.J.Sm. aff., plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031862

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia thomsenii J.J.Sm. aff., plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031862

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia thomsenii J.J.Sm. aff., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031862

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia thomsenii J.J.Sm. aff., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031862

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torana J.J.Sm. aff., inflorescence, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O040

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torricellensis Schltr. aff., plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031531

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torricellensis Schltr. aff., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031531

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torricellensis Schltr. aff., part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031531

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torricellensis Schltr. aff., flowers, front view, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20031531

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia. wappeana J.J.Sm. cf., plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20030243

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia wappeana J.J.Sm. cf., flowers, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20030243

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Adenorhachis, habit, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O090

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Adenorhachis, inflorescence, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O090

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Otoglossum, plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20030680

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Labidous, inflorescence, photo P. O'Byrne, based on O'Byrne O011 from PNG

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Otoglossum, flowers, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20030680

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Otoglossum, flowers, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult. 20030680

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult.

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult.

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, flowers, various views, photo E.F. de Vogel, Leiden cult.

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, plant habit, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, part of inflorescence, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, flowers, various views, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Scytoxiphium, flowers, various views, photo E.F. de Vogel

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp., in situ, photo A.J. de Wilde, from PNG, Bulldog track

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia anguina Schltr.aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 41

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia aurea Schltr.aff. (sect. Adenorhachis), drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 255, from PNG, Wau, Kaisinik

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia asperula J.J.Sm., floral analysis, drawing J.J. Smith, based on Versteeg 1322

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia diura Schltr., floral analysis, drawing J.J. Smith, based on Gjellerup 791

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia drepanophylla Schltr., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 29

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia heliophila (Rchb.f.) Benth. & Hook.f. ex Drake (sect. Scytoxiphium), drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 262, from PNG, Lae, in town

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia longicaulis Schltr. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 37

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia odontopetala Schltr. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 45

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia pachyglossa Schltr. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 25

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia pedicellata J.J.Sm., habit, drawing J.J. Smith, based on von Römer 665

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia plumea J.J.Sm., floral analysis, drawing J.J. Smith, based on Docters van Leeuwen 9434

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia reversidens J.J.Sm., floral analysis, drawing J.J. Smith, based on Docters van Leeuwen 9433

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia repens Schltr. aff. (sect. Otoglossum), drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 250, from Woodlark Island

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia rhodostachys Schltr. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 49

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia rivularis Schltr. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 27

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia rhizomatosa J.J.Sm., habit, drawing Natadipoera, based on Gjellerup 156

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia torana J.J.Sm. aff., drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 47

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia wariana Schltr., habit, drawing by R. Natadipoera, based on Gjellerup 31

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia wariana Schltr. aff. (sect. Labidous), drawing N.H.S. Howcroft 279, Howcroft cult., from PNG, Wipim

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Labidous, drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 43

Genus Oberonia

Oberonia sp. sect. Labidous, drawing P. O'Byrne in Lowland Orchids of New Guinea (1994) 39, as Oberonia reversidens J.J.Sm. aff.