Skip to main content
  1. Family: Orchidaceae Juss.
    1. Nervilia Comm. ex Gaudich.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is Africa to Pacific.


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

    Terrestrial tuberous herb in which the leaves are produced after the flowers (hysteranthous); tubers subterranean subspherical, rhizomatouswith 2–7 internodes, bearing short straight roots andashort ascending stem 1–15 cm long.
    Foliar leaf solitary, erect or prostrate, plicate, non-articulate, elliptic to reniform or almost circular, the upper surface sometimes pubescent and/or with various silvery patterns, the lower surface often purple.
    Inflorescence erect, 1–many-flowered, racemose; scape 2–60 cm long.
    Flowers resupinate or (in some 1-flowered species) erect; tepals except the lip similar, green or brownish-green; lip spurless or shortly spurred, 3-lobed to almost entire, often more or less papillate or pubescent and variously marked with red; column long, curved or almost straight, more or less slender towards the base; clinandrium a deep apical cavity embracing a large part of the anther; stigma ventral, elliptic to almost square, viscidium diffuse; anther incumbent, hinged; pollinia 2, bipartite, sectile.

    Orchidaceae, V. S. Summerhayes. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1968

    Terrestrial herbs arising from small tubers
    Tubers ovoid or ellipsoid, ± dorsiventrally flattened, ± pubescent
    Hysterantherous, with the leaf appearing after the flowering stem has withered Leaf erect, suberect or prostrate, solitary, lanceolate, ovate, cordate or reniform, glabrous or pubescent; petiole short or long, often sulcate, subtended at the base by a sheathing, acute or obtuse cataphyll
    Inflorescence erect, 1–many-flowered, racemose
    Scape bearing 3–4 ± sheathing cataphylls, ± elongating after fertilisation
    Flowers erect, horizontal or pendent (mostly pendent when fertilised), green, yellow, brown, white, pink or purple; bracts lanceolate, very acute; pedicel thin, ridged; ovary ellipsoidal, 3- or 6-ridged
    Sepals and petals subsimilar, lanceolate
    Lip entire or trilobed, ± papillate or pubescent, sometimes spurred
    Column ± clavate; anther terminal, conical to oblong; pollinia 2, granular; stigma ventral, orbicular to triangular, towards apex of column, separated from anther by a broad blunt rostellum.

    Leguminosae, R.K. Brummitt, D.K. Harder, G.P. Lewis, J.M. Lock, R.M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora Zambesiaca 3:3. 2007

    Unarmed deciduous trees.
    Leaves imparipinnate; leaflets alternate to rarely subopposite, with minute pellucid dots or dashes between the smaller veins; stipules small, caducous.
    Inflorescences of rather short and usually clustered racemes.
    Flowers hermaphrodite or male, the most conspicuous part being the many stamens.
    Hypanthium (receptacle) well developed, campanulate; calyx subglobose and entire before dehiscence, splitting into (3)5 ± reflexed lobes.
    Petals 0.
    Stamens many (23–126), usually crowded into several series round the rim of the hypanthium; filaments connate for up to 3 mm at base; anthers very small (up to 0.5 mm long), dorsifixed, dehiscing by longitudinal slits; connective glandular at the top.
    Ovary (in hermaphrodite flowers) on a long gynophore exceeding the hypanthium, with several ovules, tapering to a short style with inconspicuous stigma.
    Fruits ellipsoid to subglobose with a ± oblique beak, fleshy, indehiscent, with 1–6 seeds embedded in pulp.
    Seeds large, with a thin testa; embryo with a straight radicle.



    Native to:

    Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Caroline Is., Central African Repu, Chad, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Comoros, Congo, Cook Is., East Himalaya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, India, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jawa, Kenya, Korea, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Maluku, Marianas, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Queensland, Rwanda, Réunion, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Solomon Is., Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tibet, Togo, Tonga, Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Is., West Himalaya, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Extinct in:

    Cape Verde

    Accepted Species


    Other Data

    Nervilia Comm. ex Gaudich. appears in other Kew resources:


    First published in Voy. Uranie: 422 (1829)

    Accepted by

    • Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.C. & Rasmussen, F.N. (2006). Epidendroideae (Part One) Genera Orchidacearum 4: 1-672. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • F.T.A. 7: 186 (as Pogonia Juss.). Nom. cons.
    • in Frey., Voyage, 421 (1829)

    Flora Zambesiaca

    • in Orchid Monogr. 5 (1991).
    • in Nordic J. Bot. 9: 487 (1990)
    • Pettersson in Lindleyana 4: 33 (1989)
    • Cribb in F.T.E.A., Orchidaceae: 267 (1984).
    • Geerinck in Fl. Afr. Centr., Orchidaceae pt. 1: 251 (1984).
    • Summerhayes in F.W.T.A., ed. 2, 3: 206 (1968).
    • in Freycinet, Voyage Monde, Bot.: t. 35 (1827), 421 (1829) nom. conserv.

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Schltr. in E.J. 53: 550–555 (1915), nom. conserv.
    • Schltr. in E.J. 45: 399–405 (1911)
    • in Freyc., Voy. Bot.: 421, t. 35 (1829)


    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. 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 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.