1. Orchidaceae Juss.

    1. This family is accepted.


Orchidaceae, V.S. Summerhayes. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3:1. 1968

Perennial, terrestrial, epiphytic or saprophytic herbs with rhizomes or tuberous roots or rootstock; stem leafy or scapose, frequently thickened at the base into pseudobulbs and bearing aerial assimilating roots
Leaves undivided, alternate and often distichous, rarely opposite, sometimes all reduced to scales, often fleshy, sheathing at the base
Flowers bracteate, hermaphrodite or very rarely polygamous or monoecious, zygomorphic; inflorescence spicate, racemose or paniculate, or flowers solitary
Perianth epigynous, composed of 6 petaloid segments (tepals) in 2 whorls, or the outer whorl calyx-like and the inner corolla-like, or the outer rarely corolla-like and the inner minute, free or variously connate in each whorl; outer segments (sepals) imbricate or subvalvate, the middle segments of each whorl generally different in size and colour from the lateral ones, especially the middle petal which is often extremely complicated in structure and is termed the lip or labellum; the basal part of the labellum, the hypochile, is often articulated to the base of the column or is much constricted, when it is termed the claw; the middle part, the mesochile and the apical part, the epichile, may be variously lobed and often bear outgrowths. On account of the twisting of the ovary through 180°, the labellum is often placed in an abaxial position; frequently the labellum or more rarely the odd sepal is prolonged into a sac or spur, sometimes very long
Stamens 2 or 1; stamens and style united to form a special structure (column), the apex of which may be produced vertically into stelidia or laterally into wings, and the base of which may be produced downwards to form a foot; anther or anthers 2-locular, introrse, opening by a slit lengthwise; often operculate, i$e$ can be lifted like a little cap; pollen granular or generally agglutinated into mealy, waxy or bony masses (pollinia); at one end the pollinium may be extended into a sterile portion (caudicle); the pollinia may be free in the anther-loculi or more or less loosely united
Ovules very numerous and minute Ovary inferior, 1-locular with 3 parietal placentas or very rarely 3-locular with axile placentas, usually produced at the apex to form the column; stigmas 3 fertile, or more frequently the lateral 2 fertile, the other sterile and transformed into a small outgrowth (rostellum) which lies between the anther and the stigmas; a portion of the rostellum is sometimes modified into a viscid disk or disks (viscidia) to which the pollinia are attached, often by a stalk or stipes
Fruit usually a capsule, mostly opening laterally by 3 or 6 longitudinal slits
Seeds very numerous, minute, often drawn out at each end, or rarely winged, without endosperm; embryo not differentiated

Orchidaceae, I. la Croix and P.J. Cribb. Flora Zambesiaca 11:1. 1995

Growth either sympodial or less commonly monopodial Perennial, terrestrial, saprophytic or epiphytic herbs or rarely scrambling climbers, with rhizomes, root-stem tuberoids or rootstocks with mycorrhizal fungi in the roots and often elsewhere
Stems usually leafy, but leaves often reduced to bract-like scales, one or more internodes at the base often swollen to form a pseudobulb; aerial, assimilating adventitious roots, often bearing one or more layers of dead cells called a velamen, are borne in epiphytic species
Leaves glabrous or occasionally hairy, entire except at the apex in some cases, alternate or occasionally opposite, often distichous, frequently fleshy and often terete or canaliculate, almost always with a basal sheath which frequently sheaths the stem, sometimes articulated at the base of the lamina and sometimes with a false petiole
Inflorescences erect to pendent, spicate, racemose or paniculate, one to many-flowered, basal, lateral or terminal, the flowers rarely secund or distichously arranged
Flowers small to large, often quite showy, hermaphrodite or rarely monoecious and polymorphic, sessile or variously pedicellate, most often twisted through 180 degrees, occasionally not twisted or twisted through 360 degrees
Ovary inferior, unilocular and the placentation parietal, or rarely trilocular and the placentation axile Stylar and filamentous tissue forming a long or short column, with or without a basal foot, occasionally winged or with lobes or arms at apex or ventrally; anther one (or rarely two or three in extra African taxa), terminal or ventral on column, with a concave anther cap or opening by longitudinal slits; pollen in tetrads, agglutinated into discrete masses called pollinia; pollinia mealy, waxy or horny, sectile or not, 2, 4, 6 or 8, sessile or attached by caudicles, a stipes or stipites to one or two sticky viscidia; stigma 3-lobed, the mid-lobe often modified to form a rostellum, the other lobes either sunken on the ventral surface of the column behind the anther or with two lobes porrect
Perianth epigynous, of two whorls of three segments; outer perianth whorl (sepals) usually free but sometimes variously adnate, the median (dorsal) often dissimilar to the laterals, the laterals sometimes adnate to the column foot to form a saccate, conical or spur-like mentum; inner whorl comprising two lateral petals and a median lip; petals free or rarely partly adnate to sepals, similar to sepals or not, often showy; lip entire, variously lobed or two or three-partite, ornamented or not with calli, ridges, hair cushions or crests, with or without a basal spur or nectary, margins entire to laciniate
Fruit a capsule, opening laterally by 3 or 6 slits; seeds numerous, dust-like, lacking endosperm, sometimes markedly winged


Orchidaceae Juss. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 64. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boj.12385


Flora of West Tropical Africa
[A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca
[B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2017. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
[C] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0