1. Family: Orchidaceae Juss.
    1. Habenaria Willd.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & Subtropical to S. Siberia.

    General Description

    Terrestrial, rarely epiphytic, herbs with hairy tubers or long fleshy roots. Stem unbranched. Leaves several-many, lanceolate, ovate oblong or elliptic, sheathing at the base, arranged along stem or clustered at the base or in the middle, or with 1-2 basal leaves appressed to the ground and the cauline leaves sheath-like. lnflorescence terminal, one- to many-flowered. Flowers usually resupinate, green and/or white, rarely with a yellow, pink, or red labellum. Sepals usually free, the dorsal sepal often forming a hood with the petals; lateral sepals spreading or reflexed. Petals entire, two-lobed or bifid. Labellum entire or three-lobed, spurred at base; the side lobes sometimes clivided; the spur long or short, slender or saccate, often inflated at apex. Column long or short; anther erect or reclinate, the loculi either adjacent or separated by a U-shaped connective; anther canals long or short, almost always adnate to side lobes of rostellum; lateral appendages two, sometimes two-lobed; pollinaria two, each with a sectile pollinium, long or short caudicle, and a small, naked viscidium; stigmatic processes two, long or short, usually free but sometimes joined in lower part to rostellum. (PC).


    Species of the widespread genus, Habenaria, are usually terrestrial orchids that perennate by means of underground tubers. More rarely they are epiphytic herbs, such as H. procera Lindl., which often grows on oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis A. Cheval.) in western Africa and is typically found among ferns and mosses in lowland rain forest in eastern Africa (Summerhayes 1968). Throughout the range of the genus, Habenaria species frequently grow in damp or wet habitats including marshes, bogs, water meadows, seasonally flooded grasslands ('dambos' and 'vleis' in Africa), seepage slopes and wet flushes on hillsides, riverbank habitats, swamp forest, and tropical wet evergreen forest (Holttum 1964; Ohwi 1965; Summerhayes 1968; Miller 1978; Polunin and Stainton 1984; la Croix and Cribb 1995). Some species even grow in standing or slowly running water. Other members of the genus inhabit drier areas such as grassland and dry deciduous woodland (la Croix and Cribb 1995). A few African species are reported to occur on old termite mounds (e.g. H. armatissima Rchb.f.), and other Habenaria orchids frequently grow in stoney soil or shallow soil among rocks, which may be either wet or dry. The underlying substrate from areas in which Habenaria species grow includes limestone, granite, quartzite, and laterite (Holttum 1964; la Croix and Cribb 1995). Soil types range from peaty to sandy (Summerhayes 1968; la Croix and Cribb 1995).
    Habenaria species growing in open or exposed habitats, such as montane grasslands, receive high light-levels, but others are shade-tolerant plants that occur in deciduous or evergreen woodlands throughout the range of the genus. In Africa Habenaria grows in a variety of vegetation types including Brachystegia (Fabaceae), Uapaca (Euphorbiaceae), and Cryptosepalum (Fabaceae) woodlands, mopani bush, Syzigium (Myrtaceae) thickets, Miombo woodland, and Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) and pine plantations (la Croix and Cribb 1995). ln Papua New Guinea, Habenaria species are common in the Morobe lowland rainforests growing in the deep litter of the forest floor (Millar 1978), and in the United States H. quinqueseta (Michx.) Sw. occurs in pine and other woods in the southern states of America (Rickett 1966).
    Habenaria species grow at a wide range of elevations from lowlands to high montane areas. For example, in South Africa Habenaria Lindl. occurs only in coastal bush on stabilized sand-dunes (Schelpe 1966), and in Japan species such as H. sagittifera Rchb.f. are typically found in bogs and wet grasslands at low elevations (Ohwi 1965). Other species are mountain plants. Habenaria pectinata D. Don occurs in the Himalayas up to 3000 m (Hooker 1894; Polunin and Stainton 1984) and in Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia at 2200-3300 m in upland moorland. Habenaria bracteosa Hochst. ex A. Rich., a mountain-forest species from eastern Africa, grows above the forest zone at 2200-3600 m (Summerhayes 1968). Some species grow across a wide elevational range, for example the widespread tropical African orchids H. welwitschii Rchb.f. and H. arianae D. Geerinck, which grow in grasslands at elevations of 0-2000 m and 600-2300 m, respectively.
    Flowering of Habenaria usually takes place from July to October or October to January in different parts of Asia (Ohwi 1965; Dassanyake 1981; Polunin and Stain ton 1984), from August to January in the United States (Rickctt 1966), and between October and April (to June) in tropical Africa (la Croix and Cribb 1995). Fruit-set data have been colleccted in tropical Africa (la Croix and Cribb 1995), and levels of reproductive success could be expected to be high given that members of the genus are nectariferous (Neiland and Wilcock 1998). New tubers probably begin to form following flowering and are the means by which the plants survive the dry season in some regions. Tubers may also allow vegetative spread. For example, la Croix and Cribb (1995) noted that H. nyikensis G. Williamson, a species endemic to Malawi, rarely flowers but does form large colonies in open montanc grassland and Brachystegia woodland habitats. Mycorrhizal associations have been investigated for some Habenaria species, such as H. rariflora from southern India, the root systems of which were heavily infected with mycorrhiza (Raja et al. 1996). At least one species, H. saprophytica J. Bosser & P. J. Cribb, is reported to be achlorophyllous (Bosser and Cribb 1996).
    Habenaria includes both rare and common species. Some are endemics with restricted distributions, for example H. pubipetala Summerh. which is confined to six localities in Malawi (la Croix 1994). Others have become scaree through over-collection, such as H. camea N. E. Br. in Malaysia (Holttum 1964). In China, H. delavayi Finet and H. dentata Schltr. are collected for use in herbal medicine (Chen and Tang 1982). Cribb noted that H. taeniodema Summcrh. from the highlands of Ethiopia is possibly on the verge of extinction because of threats to its scrubland habitat and coLlection of the plant itself (IUCN Orchid Specialist Group 1996). Pradhan (lUCN Orchid Specialist Group 1996) listed five Habenaria species as among the most threatened orchids in India, either because of their localized distribution (e.g. H. pseudophrys King & Pantl.) or because thay have not been recorded for a long time (e.g. H. pachycaulon Hook.f.). Cadet (1989) suggested that three endangered Habenaria species should be protected on the island of Reunion in the Mascarenes. (RN).


    A genus of about 600 species, in tropical and subtropical regions of Old and New World. (PC).


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

    Terrestrial, rarely epiphytic, herb with tuberoids or long fleshy roots.
    Stem unbranched.
    Leaves several–many, arranged along stem or clustered at the base, or with 1–2 basal leaves appressed to the ground and the cauline leaves sheath-like.
    Inflorescence terminal, 1 to many-flowered.
    Flowers usually resupinate, in African species green and/or white, rarely yellow.
    Sepals usually free, the dorsal sepal often forming a hood with the petals; lateral sepals spreading or reflexed.
    Petals entire, 2-lobed or bifid.
    Lip entire or 3-lobed, spurred at base; the side lobes sometimes divided; the spur long or short, slender or saccate, often inflated at apex.
    Column long or short; anther erect or reclinate, the loculi either adjacent or separated by a U-shaped connective; anther canals long or short, almost always adnate to side lobes of rostellum; auricles (staminodes) 2, sometimes 2-lobed; pollinaria 2, each with a sectile pollinium, long or short caudicle and a small, naked viscidium; stigmatic processes 2, long or short, usually free but sometimes joined in lower part to rostellum.

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

    Terrestrial, or rarely epiphytic, herbs with elongated fleshy or tuberous roots
    Stems unbranched, sometimes very short
    Leaves variously arranged along the stem, sometimes 1 or 2 radical and adpressed closely to the ground, the cauline ones sometimes sheath-like
    Inflorescence terminal, 1-many-flowered
    Flowers usually resupinate, but in a few species not so, usually white and/or green, rarely yellow, orange or pink
    Sepals usually free, the laterals spreading, the dorsal often forming a helm with the 2 petals
    Petals often adherent to the dorsal sepal, entire or variously divided, often 2-lobed nearly to the base
    Lip usually slightly adnate at the base to the column, the free part entire or variously divided or lobed, spurred at the base; spur short, sac-like to long and slender
    Column tall or short, slender or thickened; anther upright or reclinate, the loculi adjacent and parallel with a narrow connective, or separated from one another by a much broadened filament and ± divergent, canals short or much elongated, adnate to the lateral lobes of the rostellum, auricles (staminodes) sometimes elongated or 2-lobed, usually rugose; pollinaria 2, each with sectile pollinium, short or elongated caudicle and rather small naked viscidium; stigmatic processes distinct, shortly club-shaped to very long with capitate or club-shaped apices, usually free, but sometimes united in the lower part to the rostellum, the rostellum side lobes divergent, short or long, middle lobe tall and overtopping the anther to short and very blunt or scarcely developed
    Capsules oblong or fusiform.

    A few species are cultivated, notably the Asiatic H. rhodocheila, which has a red or yellow lip.
    Lawler (1984) listed several uses for Habenaria species. Some species have been used as charms. Habenaria dives Rchb.f., H. dregeana LindJ., and H. epipactidea Rchb.f. were used as charms in South Africa, the first as a death charm; tubers are mixed with food and the victim then expected to waste away (Rayner 1977). The tubers of H. walleri Rchb.f. in Malawi have been used as food, prepared in the form of a jelly, which is boiled with salted water and served with peanuts as a side dish (Williamson 1955). Habenaria acuminata Thw. ex Trimen. and H. commelinifolia Lindl. are both used as food in India, the latter boiled to make a gruel (Duggal 1972; Usher 1974). Habenaria tubers are used as famine food and fed to pigs in New Guinea (Massal and Barrau 1955; Triede 1967; Powell 1976). The tubers of H. multipartita Bl. ex Kranzl. are eaten in Java (Bakhuisen van der Brink 1937), as are those of H. rumphii Lindl. in Ambon (Rumphius 1741- 1750; Smith 1927).
    A decoction of the boiled tubers is widely used medicinally: an infusion of boiled tubers of H. cirrhata Rchb.f. for curing indigestion in Kenya (Kokwaro 1976); H. macrandra Lindl. as a purgative, and H. walleri Rchb.f. for stomach diseases in East Africa (Kokwaro 1976); H. ciliolaris Kranzl. for internal injuries in Sichuan, China (Cheo 1947, Hu 1971 a, b); H sp. for infected wounds in lndo-China (Dournes 1955); H. miersiana Champ. ex Benth. for dressed wounds and swellings by aboriginal people in Taiwan; and for colic in Sichuan (Cheo 1947, Liu 1952; Hu 1971 a, b). An infusion of the tubers of Habenaria species has been used in South Africa to promote fertility (Rayner 1977). Salep, used as food and an aphrodisiac or restorative in lndia and Myanmar (Burma), is produced from the tubers of H. commelinifolia and other species (Chopra et al. 1956; Kirtikar and Basu 1918; Nair 1963). (PC).



    Doubtfully present in:

    Southwest Caribbean

    Native to:

    Afghanistan, Alabama, Amur, Andaman Is., Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Arkansas, Assam, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Bolivia, Borneo, Botswana, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, Chile Central, Chile North, Chile South, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Chita, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Is., Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Florida, Free State, French Guiana, Gabon, Galápagos, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Guyana, Hainan, Haiti, Honduras, India, Inner Mongolia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jawa, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Korea, Kuril Is., KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Leeward Is., Lesotho, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Louisiana, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Maluku, Manchuria, Marquesas, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mississippi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, North Carolina, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Oklahoma, Oman, Pakistan, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Primorye, Puerto Rico, Qinghai, Queensland, Rwanda, Réunion, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Socotra, Solomon Is., Somalia, South Carolina, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Texas, Thailand, Tibet, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Western Australia, Windward Is., Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Extinct in:

    Cape Verde

    Introduced into:


    Habenaria Willd. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Oct 10, 1994 Schessl, M. [3010], Brazil K000847520
    Jan 1, 1993 Schessl, M. [216/1-1], Brazil K000847521
    Aug 7, 1970 Harley, R.M. [11487], Brazil K000847513
    Zambia 1800.052
    Zambia 1800.070
    Zambia 27461.049
    Zimbabwe 30986.000
    Zimbabwe 31178.000
    India 32362.000
    Kenya 33024.000
    Kenya 33035.000
    Nigeria 33040.000
    Zambia 33780.000
    Zambia 33964.000
    Hall, A.V. [811], South Africa 27902.000
    Milne-Redhead, E. [3769] 30979.000
    Taylor, P. [16308], Ecuador 41521.000
    Tweedie, E.M. [1266], Kenya 1639.000
    Wild, H. [G.H.27241], Zimbabwe 31265.000
    Ash [1189], Ethiopia 37520.000
    Barnes, E., India 1641.000
    Barnes, E. [1999], India 1643.000
    Tweedie, E.M. [2194] 30963.000
    Richards, H.M. [10672], Zambia 30906.000
    Richards, H.M. [12473], Zambia 30969.000
    Richards, H.M. [5012], Zambia 30972.000
    Richards, H.M. [10996], Zambia 30976.000
    Richards, H.M. [22936], Zambia 32486.000
    Richards, H.M. [22842], Zambia 32487.000
    Richards, H.M. [22939], Zambia 32489.000
    Richards, H.M. [22155], Zambia 33010.000
    Richards, H.M. [22944], Zambia 33011.000
    Richards, H.M. [22951], Zambia 33206.000
    Richards, H.M. [22938], Zambia 33235.000
    Robinson, E.A. [4844], Tanzania 29830.000
    Harley, R.M. [22397A], Brazil 47758.000
    Harley, R.M. [H50759], Brazil 57928.000
    Harley, R.M. [21312], Brazil 60159.000
    Harley, R.M. [22750], Brazil 60160.000
    Harley, R.M. [22810], Brazil 60161.000
    Harley, R.M. [22874], Brazil 60163.000
    Harley, R.M. [22530], Brazil 60165.000
    Harley, R.M. [22628], Brazil 60166.000
    Harley, R.M. [21304], Brazil 61316.000
    Harley, R.M. [15715], Bahia K000886521
    Harley, R.M. [PCD 3783], Bahia K000886522
    Harley, R.M. [54218], Bahia K000886524
    Harley, R.M. [PCD 3114], Bahia K000886525
    Harley, R.M. [10590], Brazil K000847512
    Harley, R.M. [11485], Brazil K000847515
    Williamson, G. [683], Zambia 11887.018
    Williamson, G. [620], Zambia 11887.019
    Williamson, G. [633], Zambia 17326.003
    Williamson, G. [622], Zambia 17326.005
    Williamson, G. [749], Zambia 17326.022
    Williamson, G. [360], Zambia 1800.023
    Williamson, G. [819], Zambia 1800.028
    Williamson, G. [249], Zambia 1800.035
    Williamson, G. [231], Zambia 1800.066
    Williamson, G. [273], Zambia 27461.024
    Williamson, G. [806], Zambia 33113.000
    Williamson, G. [967], Zambia 33123.000
    Williamson, G. [832], Zambia 33126.000
    Williamson, G. [274], Zambia 33157.000
    Williamson, G. [241], Zambia 33166.000
    Williamson, G. [340], Zambia 33181.000
    Williamson, G. [337], Zambia 33727.000
    Williamson, G. [262], Zambia 33794.000
    Williamson, G. [833], Zambia 33817.000
    Williamson, G. [145], Zambia 33902.000
    Williamson, G. [387], Zambia 33903.000
    Williamson, G. [276], Zambia 33969.000
    Williamson, G. [135], Zambia 33971.000
    Williamson, G. [943], Zambia 33991.000
    Williamson, G. [272], Zambia 34438.000
    Williamson, G. [253], Zambia 34448.000
    Williamson, G. [304], Zambia 6049.418
    Williamson, G. [685], Zambia 6049.419
    Williamson, G. [275], Zambia 6049.427
    Williamson, G. [296], Zambia 6049.428
    Williamson, G. [303], Zambia 900.034
    Williamson, G. [293], Zambia 900.059
    Richards, M. [4175], Zambia 17274.000
    Maitland, T.D. [1398], Cameroon K000106458
    Maitland, T.D. [1669], Cameroon K000106459
    Jacques-Felix, H. [1949], Guinea 1640.000
    Sanford, W.W. [5518], Cameroon K000106507
    Archbold, M.E. [815A], Tanzania 6049.155
    la Croix, I. [1090], Congo 57103.000
    Richards, M. [22945], Zambia 32485.000
    Williamson, G. [622], Zambia 27461.044
    Williamson, G. [335], Zambia 34098.000
    Williamson, G. [645], Zambia 34406.000
    Williamson, G. [627], Zambia 34416.000
    Rule, R.H. [1192], Myanmar 31209.000
    Morze, G. [165], Zambia 31759.000
    Morze, G. [160], Zambia 31768.000
    Morze, G. [140], Zambia 31788.000
    Cribb, P. [10548], Tanzania 36745.000
    Stannard, B. [H51639], Brazil 57927.000
    Stannard, B. [H52833], Brazil 57968.000
    Stannard, B. [H52818], Brazil 58978.000
    Stannard, B. [H51675], Brazil 58979.000
    Renvoize, S.A. [1493], Tanzania 33245.000
    Renvoize, S.A. [2017], Tanzania 7357.000
    Du Puy, B. [MB666], Madagascar 72594.000
    Cheek, M. [9495], Cameroon 61748.000
    Cheek, M. [9368], Cameroon 61749.000
    Cheek, M. [9494], Cameroon 61751.000
    Holmes [0120] 30982.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77361.000
    Holmes, Zambia 77363.000
    Holmes, Zambia 77364.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77375.000
    Holmes [14], Zambia 77376.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77377.000
    Holmes [14], Zambia 77378.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77389.000
    Holmes [113 or 108 or 107 9] 77390.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77391.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77392.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77393.000
    Holmes [8], Zambia 77394.000
    Criltbert, N.F., Tanzania 29764.000
    Rand, R.F. [1460], Zimbabwe 31068.000
    Pabot [190], Brazil 31860.000
    Archbold, M.E., Tanzania 33043.000
    I.C.B.E.N. [47], Nigeria 33062.000
    I.C.B.E.N. [719], Nigeria 33063.000
    Leedal, G.P. [5140], Tanzania 40297.000
    Du Puy, D.J. [M884], Madagascar 72262.000
    Fleming, V. [8], Ecuador 61876.000
    Nic Lughadha, E. [H51080], Brazil 57955.000
    Nic Lughadha, E. [H51068], Brazil 58982.000
    Laessoe, T. [H52530], Brazil 73107.000
    Pirani, J.R. [1530], Brazil K000847527
    Pirani, J.R. [1576], Brazil K000847528
    Augustine, J. [17842], India 60765.000
    Cable, S. [327], Cameroon 61693.000
    Cable, S. [222], Cameroon 77441.000
    Lance, K. [135], Madagascar 66838.000
    Roberts, D.L. [190], Madagascar 78074.000
    Melo, E. [PCD1210], Bahia K000886523
    Heringer, E.P. [6332], Brazil K000847503
    Heringer, E.P. [6066], Brazil K000847516
    Heringer, E.P. [18116], Brazil K000847517
    Heringer, E.P. [6121], Brazil K000847518
    Lughadha, E.N. [H51022], Brazil 73103.000
    Filgueiras, T.S. [2349], Brazil K000847525
    Filgueiras, T.S. [2349], Brazil K000847526
    Walter, B.M.T. [3264], Brazil K000847499
    Chase, M.W.C. [82108] 75706.000
    Schessl, M. [3010], Brazil K000847522
    Drège, J.F. [4568], South Africa K000061939 holotype
    Mendonça, R.C. [4238], Brazil K000847519
    Mendonça, R.C. [1338], Brazil K000847523
    Mendonça, R.C. [1353], Brazil K000847524
    Glaziou, A.F.M. [19903], Brazil K000940848
    Bardot - Vaucoulon, M. [1579], Madagascar K000718015
    Glaziou, A. [22169], Brazil K000847501
    Hatschbach, G.G. [59952], Brazil K000847529
    Gardner [2318], Brazil K000847502
    Gardner [3987], Brazil K000847504
    Gardner [3987], Brazil K000847505
    Gardner [3452], Brazil K000847506
    Gardner [3988], Brazil K000847507
    Gardner [3988], Brazil K000847509
    Gardner [3453], Brazil K000847511
    Gardner [3992], Brazil K000847514
    Brunt, M.A. [647], Cameroon K000106505
    s.coll. [3986], Brazil K000847508
    s.coll. [s.n.], South Africa K000061938 holotype
    Burchell [6733-2], Brazil K000847500
    Burchell [7036], Brazil K000847510
    Hromadnik [s.n.], Brazil K000847530

    First published in Sp. Pl., ed. 4, 4: 44 (1805)

    Accepted by

    • Batista, J.A.N., de Bem Bianchetti, L. & De J.G.Miranda, Z (2006). A revision of Habenaria section Macroceratitae (Orchidaceae) in Brazil Brittonia 58: 10-41.
    • 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. (2001). Orchidoideae (Part 1) Genera Orchidacearum 2: 1-416. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • F.T.A. 7: 206.
    • Sp. Pl. 4: 44(1805)
    Flora Zambesiaca
    • Sp. Pl. 4: 44 (1805).
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • Sp. Pl. 4: 44 (1805)


    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
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    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

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    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
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