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Purple orchids
Spathoglottis plicata (Philippine ground orchid)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Cymbidieae
Subtribe: Eulophiinae
Genus: Geodorum

Spathoglottis, commonly known as purple orchids[2] or 苞舌兰属 (bao she lan shu)[3] is a genus of about fifty species of orchids in the family Orchidaceae. They are evergreen terrestrial herbs with crowded pseudobulbs, a small number of leaves and medium-sized resupinate flowers on an upright flowering stem. The sepals and petals are all similar to each other and are white, yellow, pink or purple. Species of Spathoglottis are found from Asia and Southeast Asia to Australia and some Pacific Islands.


Orchids in the genus Spathoglottis are evergreen, terrestrial herbs with crowded pseudobulbs just below the surface of the soil and a few large, pleated leaves. The flowering stem emerges from a pseudoblulb and bears medium-sized, colourful flowers. The flowers open widely with the sepals and petals all similar in size to each other, although with the petals usually broader, the sepals are hairy on the outside. The labellum has three lobes, the side lobes more or less upright and the middle lobe with a claw near its base.[2][3][4]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

The genus Spathoglottis was first formally described in 1825 by Carl Ludwig Blume who published the description in Bijdragen tot de flora van Nederlandsch Indië.[1][5][6] The genus name Spathoglottis is derived from the Ancient Greek words spathe meaning "any broad blade", "a paddle for stirring and mixing" or "the stem of a palm leaf"[7]:732 and glottis meaning "the mouth of the windpipe"[7]:610 referring to the broad middle lobe of the labellum.[4]

Species list[edit]

Species accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as of October 2018 are:[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Spathoglottis orchids usually grow in moist places in forest, grassland and swamps, usually in bright sunshine. They are found in India, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Borneo and Cape York Peninsula in Australia. One species is endemic to Australia and three to China.[2][3][4]

Use in horticulture[edit]

They are easy to cultivate and sought after for their large colourful flowers, and are common in tropical gardens. They need sun for part of the day, well-drained loamy soil and regular water.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Spathoglottis". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ a b c d Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. pp. 362–363. ISBN 1877069124.
  3. ^ a b c Chen, Xinqi; Bell, Alexandra. "Spathoglottis". Flora of China. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Spathoglottis". Trin keys. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Spathoglottis". APNI. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  6. ^ Blume, Carl Ludwig (1825). Bijdragen tot de flora van Nederlandsch Indië. Batavia. p. 400. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

External links[edit]