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This genus is accepted, and its native range is India to S. Central China and Malesia.


Rhynchostylis includes three species collectively distributed from Sri Lanka and India through mainland Southeast Asia, China, and the Philippines south through Malaysia and Indonesia.


Schill and Pfeiffer (1977) examined the pollen of R. coelestis (Rchb.f.) A.H.Kent, R. gigantea (Lindl.) Ridl., and an unidentified species. Tetrads were convex with laevigate sculpturing and a rounded sexine (partly calymmate in the unnamed species) about 1.5–2.0 μm thick.


All three species are epiphytes in forests at 0–1800 m. Rhychostylis coelestis (Rchb.f.) A.H.Kent occurs in deciduous forests and on small trees in open scrub at 200 m in Thailand. Rhychostylis gigantea is epiphytic on tree trunks in open forests at 1000 m in China (Hainan); it also occurs in deciduous forests at 200 m in Thailand, coastal forests on limestone in Sabah, and in the Philippines at 500 m. Rhychostylis retusa grows in open forests or at forest margins at 300–1500 m in China, beside streams in savannas in Sri Lanka, on Acacia Mill. (Fabaceae) at 600 m in Burma, on mango (Mangifera indica L.; Anacardiaceae) in India, in deciduous forests at 300–800 m in Thailand, and in open forests at 0–1000 m in Java, where it is particularly common in teak plantations (Tectona grandis L.f.; Lamiaceae). Rhychostylis gigantea subsp. violacea (Lindl.) Christenson grows on Mangifera indica in the Philippines.

General Description

Epiphytic herbs. Stem robust. Leaves many, distichous, often lorate, channelled, unequally bilobed or toothed, usually with pale green stripes, articulate to a sheathing base. Inflorescence lateral, racemose, erect or pendent, many-flowered. Flowers resupinate, with a ‘soapy’ fragrance. Sepals and petals free, similar, spreading, lateral sepals often wider and oblique. Petals smaller than sepals. Labellum rigidly adnate to column foot, entire or slightly trilobed, midlobe dorsiventrally flattened, spurred at base; spur laterally compressed and backward-pointing, without internal callosities. Column with a column foot; anther cap beaked; pollinia two, waxy, globular, cleft, solid, stipe linear, apex slightly dilated, viscidium ovate; rostellum beaked.


Subedi et al. (2011) reported the medicinal use of R. retusa in Nepal: the sap of the roots is applied to cuts and wounds, leaf powder is used to treat rheumatism, and the dried flowers are used as an insect repellent and to induce vomiting. Similar and additional medicinal uses have been reported for this species from India, where the root is known as rasna, and Sri Lanka (Lawler 1984). All species of Rhynchostylis are popular in cultivation.

Native to:

Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Borneo, Cambodia, China South-Central, East Himalaya, Hainan, India, Jawa, Laos, Malaya, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicobar Is., Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sumatera, Thailand, Vietnam, West Himalaya

Rhynchostylis Blume appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Barnes, E. [2308], India 10512.000
India 32665.000

First published in Bijdr. Fl. Ned. Ind.: 285 (1825)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.C. & Rasmussen, F.N. (2014). Genera Orchidacearum 6: 1-544. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.

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Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.