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  • Corsiaceae Becc.

This family is accepted.
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


Maas, P.J.M. & Maas-van de Kamer, H. (2012). Neotropical Corsiaceae.


Herbs, mycoheterotrophic ("saprophytic") with short, tuberous roots Leaves alternate , 4-6, reduced to closed sheaths.  Flowers bisexual , zygomorphic , terminal , solitary; tepals 6, petaloid , the 3 inner ones and 2 of the outer ones filiform , the median outer one wider and standard-like, reflexed , with 2 rows of bullate structures; stamens 6, with short filaments, anthers dorsifixed, extrorse; ovary inferior, 1-locular, placentation parietal , ovules many, styles 3, each with a capitate stigma Fruits reflexed capsules, opening with 1 terminal triangular aperture.  Seeds many, dust-like.

Distribution in the Neotropics

Worldwide the Corsiaceae comprise three genera and ca. 30 species, of which only one genus occurs in the Neotropics.

  • Arachnitis Phil. - (2 spp.) montane, moist forests of Peru and Bolivia to Patagonia in the South, at elevations of 0-2,500 m.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Mycoheterotrophic ("saprophytic") herbs with scale-like leaves.
  • Flowers solitary, terminal, zygomorphic, tepals 6 (5 filiform and 1 large, standard-like, enclosing the other ones in bud).
  • Fruit a capsule, opening with 1 terminal, triangular aperture.
Key differences from similar families
  • Corsiaceae can, when superficially studied, only be confused with Orchidaceae, but they clearly differ in having 6 stamens instead of  the 1, rarely 3, found in the Orchidaceae.
General Description
General notes
  • Corsiaceae is a family rarely collected in the Neotropics, most collections come from extra-neotropical regions in Bolivia and Argentina.
  • Arachnitis species may be pollinated by fungus gnats (Ibisch et al., 1996).
Notes on delimitation
  • Recent research states that the position of the family is uncertain, but in the APG III (Stevens, 2008; APG III, 2009) it is placed in Liliales.
  • In the past the Corsiaceae have been included in the Burmanniaceae. 
  • Cronquist (1981) placed the family in the order Orchidales with the Orchidaceae and Geosiridaceae.  Takthtajan (2009) placed it in Burmanniales along with Burmanniaceae and Thismiaceae.
  • Arachnitis is native in the Neotropics, and not cultivated.
Important literature

A.P.G. III. 2009. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Bot. J. Linnean Soc. 161: 105-121.

Cronquist, A. 1981. An integrated system of classification of flowering plants. Columbia University Press. New York

Henderson, A. & Stevenson, D.W. 2004. Corsiaceae. In: Smith, N., Mori, S.A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D.W. and Heald, S.V. (eds.). Flowering Plants of the Neotropics, p. 429. The New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Ibisch, P.L., Neinhuis, C. and Rojas N., P.  1996. On the biology, biogeography, and taxonomy of Arachnitis Phil. nom. cons. (Corsiacae) in respect to a new record from Bolivia. Willdenowia 26: 321-332.

Maas, P.J.M. & Westra, L.Y.Th. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families. A concise guide of vascular plants in the Neotropics. 3rd ed., p. 70-71. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell.

Neinhuis, C. & Ibisch, P.L. 1998. Corsiaceae. In: Kubitzki, K. (ed.). The Families and Genera of Vascular plants vol. III, Vol. 3. Flowering Plants -Monocotyledons. Lilianae (except Orchidaceae), pp. 198-201. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Stevens, P.F. 2008. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9 onwards.

Takhtajan, A. 1997. Flowering Plants. 2nd ed. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Corsiaceae Becc. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Malesia 1: 238. 1878 (1878)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

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.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.