The Genus Eulophia

Nina Rach

Edited 20 July 2007

The genus Eulophia includes several hundred, mostly terrestrial species. They are found throughout the Tropics, in Africa, India, Asia, and the Americas, although the majority are found in Africa.

The name Eulophia derives from the Greek eu, meaning "well", and lephos, meaning "plume" or "crest"; in summation, "handsome crest." This refers to the prominent crest on the midlobe of the lip. Eulophias are "gullet" flowers, like many cattleyas, cymbidiums, and sobralias. The column and lip form a chamber which the pollinator must enter. Eulophias are pollinated by carpenter bees of the genus Xylocopa.

The stems of most Eulophias have thickened into corms or rhizomes; pseudobulbs are a rarity. The leaves are most often plicate and deciduous. Inflorescences arise from the base of the rhizome or pseudobulb, sometimes a short distance away from the leafy growth. Flowers open successively or sequentially.

Image above right shows an 1828 lithograph of Eulophia ensata, published in Edwards Botanical Register. The species is native to southern Africa, particularly along the eastern coast of the Republic of South Africa.

Very few species seem to be in cultivation and fewer than 30 different species have been awarded by the AOS. Two articles on cultivation of eulophias were published in the AOS Bulletin (1954) by Frank Piers and E.P. Firth. They note that Eulophia cucullata (prev. Lissochilus arenarius) was difficult to cultivate. Eduardo Quisumbing (Philippine Orchids, 1981) stated that many attmepts were made to grow E. stricta in Manilla had failed, but that E. guineenensis (the type species) var. purpurata was actively cultivated in Europe.

Ed Merkle, noted April 2005 in the Orchid Guide Digest that "I've been blooming my Eulophia petersii for several years now here in Tennessee. The flower stems on mine are usually 5 to 6 feet tall." Webpage with photos. Merkle's Orchids, 1008 Maplewood Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37216

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