Nervilia Comm. ex Gaudich.

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


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

Morphology General Habit
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.
Morphology Leaves
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.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence erect, 1–many-flowered, racemose; scape 2–60 cm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
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

Morphology General Habit
Terrestrial herbs arising from small tubers
Vegetative Multiplication Tubers
Tubers ovoid or ellipsoid, ± dorsiventrally flattened, ± pubescent
Morphology Leaves
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence erect, 1–many-flowered, racemose
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Scape
Scape bearing 3–4 ± sheathing cataphylls, ± elongating after fertilisation
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Sepals and petals subsimilar, lanceolate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Labellum
Lip entire or trilobed, ± papillate or pubescent, sometimes spurred
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Column
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

Morphology General Habit
Unarmed deciduous trees.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves imparipinnate; leaflets alternate to rarely subopposite, with minute pellucid dots or dashes between the smaller veins; stipules small, caducous.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences of rather short and usually clustered racemes.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers hermaphrodite or male, the most conspicuous part being the many stamens.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Hypanthium
Hypanthium (receptacle) well developed, campanulate; calyx subglobose and entire before dehiscence, splitting into (3)5 ± reflexed lobes.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 0.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
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.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Ovary (in hermaphrodite flowers) on a long gynophore exceeding the hypanthium, with several ovules, tapering to a short style with inconspicuous stigma.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits ellipsoid to subglobose with a ± oblique beak, fleshy, indehiscent, with 1–6 seeds embedded in pulp.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds large, with a thin testa; embryo with a straight radicle.

Native to:

Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, 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, Tuamotu, Tubuai Is., Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Is., West Himalaya, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Extinct in:

Cape Verde

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

First published in Voy. Uranie: 422 (1829)

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. (2006). Epidendroideae (Part One) Genera Orchidacearum 4: 1-672. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

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

Flora Zambesiaca

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

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Schltr. in E.J. 45: 399–405 (1911)
  • Schltr. in E.J. 53: 550–555 (1915), nom. conserv.
  • 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 2022. 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 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.