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This species is accepted, and its native range is E. & S. Brazil to Argentina (Misiones).
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


De Brito, A. (2007). A Taxonomic Revision of the Genus Phymatidium (Orchidaceae: Oncidiinae). Kew Bulletin, 62(4), 529-560. Retrieved from

Morphology General Habit
Plant very small, up to c. 20 mm tall, usually forming dense and intricate clumps
Morphology Leaves
Leaves several, c. 15 x 1.5 mm, ensiform, falcate, subulate, usually somewhat twisted and asymmetric, very variable in cross-section, semi terete, subterete to somewhat 3-angled, slightly sheathing and shortly decurrent at base, pale green
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flower usually resupinate, white with green centre and spreading segments
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Lateral sepals 2 - 4 x 0.3 - 0.8 mm, spreading, narrowly ovate to oblong lanceolate, slightly to distinctly falcate, sometimes curved upwards becoming subparallel to the petals, weakly concave, acute to obtuse-mucronate, abaxially carinate Dorsal sepal 2.5 - 3.5 x 0.3 - 1 mm, usually concave towards base and somewhat hooded, narrowly ovate, ovate-triangular or oblong-lanceolate, usually slightly concave, acute to obtuse, abaxially weakly to distinctly carinate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Column
Column 1 - 3 mm long (excluding the tabula infrastigmatica), arching, slightly to distinctly sigmoid, sulcate underneath, slightly to markedly recurved towards apex, auriculate, the auricles somewhat broadly ovate when spread, densely papillose; stigmatic cavity small, ovate, placed at base of the column; rostellum very short, slightly curved forward; tabula infrastigmatica variable in shape and size, usually 0.5 - I x 0.5 - 1 mm, rarely inconspicuous, thick, solid, laterally excavated when seen from the side, usually obovate trapeziform, broadly ovoid to subglobose in outline from above, with a raised obovoid to ligulate (rarely sagittate) longitudinal callus in the middle, the apex of the column usually somewhat emarginate with two lateral, divergent, small teeth; anther 1 - 1.5 mm long, operculate, narrowly ovate to obscurely panduriform in outline, apex very shortly emarginate and recurved; pollinia arranged in two superposed slightly unequal pairs, pyriform; stipe c. 1.2 mm long, narrowly obovate-cuneiform, curved forwards at base, apex emarginate, truncate or emarginate-apiculate; viscidium very small, subelliptic. Capsule 2 - 3 x 1.5 - 3 mm, subglobose, the pedicel 2 - 4 mm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Lip 2 - 4 x 1.5 - 3.5 mm, broadly unguiculate, rarely subsessile; blade cordiform, rarely ovate-rhombic or broadly ovate-lanceolate, usually rather convex and deflexed; margins erose at the middle of the lip, becoming entire towards the base and the apex; base provided with a glandular, concave, ligulate to subquadrate callus which occupies most of the claw of the lip (c. 1/3); apex acute, acuminate Petals 2 - 3.5 x 0.5 - 1 mm, spreading, ovate lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate or narrowly ovate, usually slightly oblique and falcate, usually concave towards apex, acute to obtuse, sometimes shortly mucronate, usually abaxially distinctly carinate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary 0.5 - 2 mm long, angular, papillose on the angles
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pedicel
Pedicel 2 - 4 mm long, twisted, slightly angular, shortly papillose on the angles, bent near the apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences few to several, up to c. 100 mm long, few to many-flowered, racemose; peduncle up to c. 50 mm long, slightly angular in cross-section, finely papillose on the angles, covered by several widely spaced, decurrent, thickish, subulate sterile bracts, c. 4 x 1 mm; rachis up to c. 30 mm long, zigzag; floral bracts similar to the sterile ones, decreasing in size towards the apex of inflorescence
Morphology Roots
Roots many, terete, flexuous, thick, glabrous
Morphology Stem
Stem up to c. 15 mm long, erect, branched
The specific epithet comes from the Latin delicatus, delicate, and refers to the small delicate plants and flowers. Since its publication by Lindley in 1833, Phymatidium delicatulum has been consistently misidentified (e.g. Barbosa Rodrigues 1882; Cogniaux 1905; Pabst & Dungs 1977; Senghas 1995). Most published illustrations have been wrongly named and most specimen citations are usually a mixture of different taxa. As a consequence, the taxonomy of this common species is highly confused. The problem can be traced to 1882 when Barbosa Rodrigues considered Ornithocephalus microphyllus Barb. Rodr. (= Phlymatidium microphyllum (Barb. Rodr.) Toscano), a valid species, as conspecific with Phymatidium delicata in his Genera el Species Orchidacearum Novarum. In the same work, he described a new species, Phymatidium myrtophilum, which was based on a specimen of the true P. delicatulum. Cogniaux (1905), apparently following Barbosa Rodrigues, provided illustrations of P. myrtophilum and P. delicatulum in his account for Martius' Flora Brasiliensis. Lindley's original publication of P. delicatulum comprised only an extremely short description, without an illustration. Herbarium specimens of Phymatidium are difficult to study, and good rehydration of flowers using boiling water is usually difficult. Their flowers are very small and the differences are somewhat difficult to describe. As most species are sympatric and usually have the same flowering season, mixed collections with up to three different species on the same herbarium sheet have been found. For instance, in Lindley's herbarium at Kew, specimens of P. delicatulum are mounted together with P. hysteranthum on the same sheet. Likewise, Cogniaux (1905:234) cited, under P. delicatum, specimens of at least four different taxa, namely: P. delicatulum, P. microphyllum, P. hysteranthum and P. glaziovii. A few authors, notably Hoehne (1949, t. 286, f. 1) and Johnson (2001), correctly named and illustrated P. delicatum, but this seems to have been due to misinterpretation of Cogniaux's concepts in Flora Brasiliensis rather than to the correct interpretation of Lindley's original concept. In Lindley's herbarium at Kew, the holotype is labelled as "Ins. S. Catharinae, Brasilia, L." and is situated on the upper left side of the sheet. The "L." most probably refers to the collector, the German explorer and naturalist Georg Heinrich Langsdorff. A second specimen, placed in a envelope on the upper right side of the herbarium sheet, agrees with the holotype and was collected by Langsdorff during his short stay in the Isle of Santa Catarina between December 1803 and January 1804, when he visited Brazil for the first time as naturalist in the Kruzernstern & Liciansky Circumnavigation Expedition (Langsdorff 1813). Although Lindley cited a Fischer specimen in the type description of P. delicatulum, the type specimen was most probably collected by Langsdorff during his visit to Santa Catarina. Friedrich E. L. von Fischer was the Director of St. Petersburg Botanical Gardens between 1823 and 1850, and never visited Brazil. He was almost certainly responsible for distribution of Langsdorff's duplicates to specialists in other herbaria, which would explain the citation of his name by Lindley. P. delicatulum and P. herteri (treated here as a variety of P. microphyllum) are sympatric, and both have been collected in São Francisco de Paula. While the identity of P. paranaense remains somewhat unclear it is most probably a synonym of P. delicatulum, but certainly not the same as P. herteri. Although variable in its floral morphology, P. delicatulum can be easily recognised by the shape of the column, especially the short and narrow papillose auricles. Extreme variants exist, some apparently genetically fixed; some of these might deserve taxonomic recognition. Only two of these are recognised here: P delicatulum var. delicatulum and P. delicatulum var. curvisepalum Toscano.
Brazil. Santa Catarina: Isle of Santa Catarina, Fischer (Langsdorff s.n.) (holotype K!; ?isotype K!).

Native to:

Argentina Northeast, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Paraguay

Phymatidium delicatulum Lindl. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
May 18, 2009 Weir, J. [497], Brazil K000880327
May 18, 2009 Weir, J. [482], Brazil K000880330
May 18, 2009 s.coll. [s.n.], Minas Gerais K000880316 holotype
May 18, 2009 Fischer [s.n.], Minas Gerais K000880326 isotype
May 18, 2009 Langsdorff [s.n.], Minas Gerais K000880317 isotype
Aug 8, 2006 74606.000
Fischer [s.n.], Brazil 74474.000 isotype
Toscano de Brito, A. [328], Brazil 74492.000
Miers, J. [s.n.], Rio de Janeiro K000880319
Glaziou, A.F.M. [14294], Rio de Janeiro K000880329
Ferreira, S. [s.n.], Brazil 74476.000
Toscano de Brito, A. [953], Brazil 74483.000
Gardner, G. [644], Rio de Janeiro K000880318
Toscano de Brito, A. [688], Brazil 73543.000
Miers, J. [s.n.], Rio de Janeiro K000880328
Muller, F. [81], Brazil K001077598

First published in Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 310 (1833)

Accepted by

  • Ferreira, A.W.C., Lima, M.I.S. & Pansarin, E.R. (2010). Orchidaceae na região central de São Paulo, Brasil Rodriguésia; Revista do Instituto de Biologia Vegetal, Jardim Botânico e Estaçao Biologica do Itatiaya 61: 243-259.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Royer, C.A., Toscano de Brito, A.L.V. & de Camargo Smidt, E. (2014). O gênero Phymatidium (Orchidaceae: Oncidiinae) no estado do Paraná Rodriguésia; Revista do Instituto de Biologia Vegetal, Jardim Botânico e Estaçao Biologica do Itatiaya 65: 251-260.
  • Schinini, A. (2010). Orquídeas nativas del Paraguay Rojasiana 9: 1-316.
  • Toscano de Brito, A.L.V. (2007). A taxonomic revision of the genus Phymatidium (Orchidaceae: Oncidiinae) Kew Bulletin 62: 529-560.
  • da Rocha Fiuza de Melo, M.M. & al. (eds.) (2007). Flora Fanerogâmica da Ilha do Cardoso 12: 1-289. Instituto de Botânica, São Paulo, Brasil.


Kew Bulletin

  • Barbosa Rodrigues, J. (1882). Genera et Species Orchidearum Novarum,Vol. 2. Sebastianopolis, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Cogniaux, A. (1904 - 1906). Orchidaceae. In: C. F. P. Martius, A. G. Eichler & I. Urban, Flora Brasiliensis, Vol. 3, Part 6. Munich & Leipzig.
  • Cogniaux, A. (1907). Notes sur les orchidées du Brésil et des régions voisines. Bull. Soc. Roy. Bot. Belgique 43: 266 - 356.
  • Hoehne, F. C. (1949). Iconografia de Orchidaceas do Brasil. Secretaria de Agricultura, São Paulo.
  • Jonhson, A. E. (2001). Las Orquídeas del Parque Nacional Iguazú. L.O.L.A. Buenos Aires.
  • Kraenzlin, F. (1911). Beiträge zur orchideenflora Südamerikas. Kongl. Svenska Vetensk. Acad. Handl. 46: 1 - 105.
  • Lindley, J. (1830 - 1840). The Genera and Species of Orchidaceous Plants. Ridgways, London.
  • Pabst, G. F. J. & Dungs, F. (1977). Orchidaceae Brasilienses, Vol. 2. Brucke-Verlag Kurt Schmersow, Hildesheim.
  • Senghas, K. (1995). Tribus Oncidieae. subtribus Telipogoninae and subtribus Ornithocephalinae. In: F. G. Brieger, R. Maatsch & K. Senghas (eds.), Schlechtere Die Orchideen 3: 1863 - 1913.
  • Toscano de Brito, A. L. V. (2001). Systematic review of the Ornithocephalus Group (Oncidiinaer, Orchidaceae) with comments on Hofmeisterella. Lindleyana 16: 157 - 217.
  • Warming, E. (1884). Symbolae ad floram Brasiliae centralis cogynoscendam, part. 9: 841 - 847.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Schinini, A. (2010). Orquídeas nativas del Paraguay Rojasiana 9: 1-316.
  • Toscano de Brito, A.L.V. (2007). A taxonomic revision of the genus Phymatidium (Orchidaceae: Oncidiinae) Kew Bulletin 62: 529-560.

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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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 Bulletin
Kew Bulletin

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.