Philippine Terrestrial Orchids

By Nina Rach


In the Foreword to Orchidiana Philippiniana, Dr. Helen Valmayor writes “Philippine orchids continue to fascinate orchid growers because of their sheer variety and number. ... There are a fair number of terrestrial orchids, such as Calanthe, Habernaria, Eulophia, Malaxis, Phaius, Zeuxine and Ludisia. Some have very attractive flowers like the Calanthe, Phaius and Spathoglottis. Others belong to the so-called “Jewel Orchids,” which are cultivated for their attractive foliage, like Zeuxine, Ludisia, and Anoectochilus.”


Some Terrestrial Genera in the Philippines:


Acanthephippium Blume (1837)

Named from the Greek akantha (thorn) and ephippion (saddle). The genus is easily recognized by the large, urn-shaped flowers. 15 species overall, one in the Philippines: A. mantinianum (L.) Linden & Cogn., which grows as a large plant with erect stems and thin, broad leaves. Flowers are large (4cm) and fleshy, yellow with red.


Anoectochilus Blume (1825)

Derived from the Greek words anoectos (open) and cheilos (lip). 25 species overall; according to Ames (1915), one of these “jewel orchids” is found in the Philippines. Allied to Eucosia, Goodyera and Macodes, and grows in deep shade in leaf litter The plants have dark green leaves with red veins, red underside, and white flowers; column has two wings.


Aphyllorchis Blume (1825)

          From the Greek a (without), phyllon (leaf), and orchis (testicle) referring to the leafless state of these orchids. 20 species overall, three in the Philippines (all leafless saprophytes with thick fleshy roots and open, starry flowers):
A. halconensis Ames grows to 115cm tall on Mt. Halcon, with bluish-purple and white flowers; A. montana Rchb.f. grows to 40cm tall in dry, pine forest ridges, with yellow and brown flowers; A. pallida Bl. grows to 30cm tall in humid forests, flowers grey & purple.


Apostasia Blume (1825)

          From the Greek word apostasia (separation, divorce). Six species overall; according to Comber (1990) one grows in the Philippines: Apostasia wallichi R. Br. Ex Wall. Is an evergreen terrestrial grows in moist soils in shady ridge forests and has slender branched stems to 30cm and yellowish flowers about 1cm across.


Appendicula Blume (1825)

          Genus name derived from the Latin word appendicula (little appendix), describing the appendiculate calluses of the lip. 110 species divided into five sections; 23 species known in the Philippines; mostly epiphytic, with the following exceptions: Appendicula anceps Bl. is a 15-cm tall terrestrial with terminal inflorescenses of tiny, yellowish-green flowers.  Appendicula micrantha Lindl. grows near streams, both epiphytically and terrestrially to 50 cm, and bears tiny, white and purple flowers clustered at the base of the leaves, close to the stem.


Arachnis Blume (1825)

          Named from the Greek word arachne (spider). 17 species; two in the Philippines; Arachnis longicaulis (Schltr.) L.O. Wms. is an endemic terrestrial species with fragrant yellow flowers, mottled with brown. A variety collected in Quezon, f. flavescens Valmayor & Tiu, is closer to pure yellow. Flowers appear singly, on short stems opposite the leaves.



Bromheadia Lindley (1841)

          Named for Sir Edward French Bromhead.  11 species; two in the Philippines, one is terrestrial: Bromheadia finlaysoniana

(Lindl.) Rchb.f. Grows to 1m, occasionally 2m, bearing erect inflorescenses with one or two starry, white to cream-colored flowers open at a time; lip yellow with purple spots.



Calanthe R. Brown (1821)

          The genus name derives from the Greek calos (beautiful) and anthos (a flower). 150 species found over a wide range, with 14 found in the Philippines (9 endemic*); 12 of these are terrestrial, with large pleated leaves and fleshy, corm-like pseudobulbs:

Calanthe angustifolia (Bl.) Lindl.                        conspicua Lindl.*

davaensis Ames*                                                  elmeri Ames*

halconensis Ames*                                                  lacerata Ames*

maquilingensis Ames*                                   mcgregorii Ames*  

mindorensis Ames*                                                  pulchra (Bl.) Lindl.

triplicata (Willem.) Ames                               vestita Lindl.


Cephalantheropsis Guillaumin (1960)

          Two species in the Philippines: Ceph. Gracilis (Lindl.) S.Y. Yu, which grows to 60cm tall with long, axillary inflorescenses; and Ceph. Halconensis (Ames) Liu & Siu, growing to 10 cm tall with slender pseudobulbs and white flowers.


Cheirostylis Blume (1825)

          From the Greek cheir (hand) and stylis (style), named presumably for the flowers resemblance to a hand. Allied to Zeuxine; about 20 species overall, with two in the Philippines: Cheir. chinensis Rolfe, a succulent terrestrial 6-12 cm high bearing white flowers with two green blotches in the throat; and Cheir. octodactyla Ames, short and stout, 4-8cm high with white, 1cm flowers. Grows in mossy thickets and not recommended for cultivation.


Coelogyne Lindley (1825)

          Name derived from the Greek koilos (hollow) and gyne (female). About 150 species, mostly epiphytic, but some are lithophytic and others “grow as terrestrials in grassy meadows or rocky places”. Very hardy and capable of withstanding droughts.


Corybas Salisbury (1803)

          This genus earned the common name 'Helmet Orchids' because of the shape of the flowers. The plants have a solitary, heart-shaped leaf and a single flower arises from the base. Two of these very small terrestrial species grow in the Philippines: Corybas laceratus L.O. Wms, and Corybas merrillii Ames.


Corymborkis Thouars (1855)

          Named from the Greek corymbos (clustered) and orchis (testicle).  These tall, evergreen, terrestrials resemble grass or ginger.  About 18 species overall, but a single representative in the Philippines: Corymborkis veratrifolia (Reinw.) Bl., which has a spicy fragrance and is also found in North Queensland and New Guinea.


Cryptostylis R. Brown (1810)

          From the Greek cryptos (hidden) and stylos (style), referring to the short column which is encased by the base of the lip.  Evergreen terrestrials with erect leathery leaves and fleshy roots.  About twenty species overall, and two of these in the Philippines: Cryptostylis arachnites (Bl.) Hassk. (= C. fulva Schlechter = C. papuana Schlechter) and Cryptostylis taiwaniana Masam.



Cymbidium Swartz (1799)

          Named from the Greek kymbes (boat-shaped), describing the shape of the lip.  Usually epiphytic, but also found growing as terrestrials.  Eight species in the Philippines, plus two varieties:

Cym. aliciae Quis.                                Cym. atropurpureum (Lindl.) Rolfe

Cym. chloranthum Lindl.                     Cym. dayanum Rchb.f.

Cym. dayanum var. austro-japonicum Tuyama

Cym. ensifolium var. misericors (Hay) T.P. Lin

Cym. finlaysonianum Lindl                           Cym. finlaysonianum var. album Hort.

Cym. gonzalesii Quis.                                Cym. pubescens Lindl.


Cystopus Blume (1858)



Cystorchis Blume

          Name taken from the Greek kystis (bladder) and orchis (testicle).  One of the “Jewel orchids.”



Dendrochilum Blume (1825)

          The genus is named from the Greek words dendron (tree) and cheilos (lip). There are about 150 species, which grow epiphytically and lithophytically.  __ species in the Philippines, including:




Didymoplexis Griffith (1844)

          Named from the Greek words didymos (twin) and plexis (plaiting), referring to the joining of the basal half of the sepals and petals.  All ten of the species in this genus are saprophytes which grow in leaf litter, and therefore not recommended for cultivation. Two species in the Philippines: D. pallens and D. philippinensis Ames.


Dilochia Lindley (1830)

          This genus is named from the Greek di (double) and lochos (rank), referring to the distichous bracts.  There are about six species, all terrestrial, similar to Arundina.  One representative in the Philippines: Dilochia elmeri Ames.


Dipodium R. Brown (1810)

          Named from the Greek dis (two) and podion (small foot), referring to the stalked pollinia.  Terrestrials and saprophytes.  About 20 species, but only one in the Philippines: Dipodium paludosum (Griff.) Rchb.f.


Disperis Swartz (1800)

          Named from the Greek dis (two, twice) and pera (sac), referring to the pouches formed by the lateral sepals.  Total of 75 species with complex flowers, all but four are African, and one of those four is found in the Philippines: Disperis philippinensis Schltr.




Epiblastus Schlecter (1905)

          From the Greek epiblastos (sprouting on or again), referring to the growth habit.  About 15 species, of which one grows in the Philippines: Epiblastus merrillii L.O. Wms.


Epipogium Gmelin & Borkhausen (1792)

          Name taken from the Greek epi (upon) and pogon (beard), for the bearded appearance of the lip.  Leafless saprophytes. Three species, one of which grows in the Philippines: Epipogium roseum (D.Don) Lindl.


Erythrodes Blume (1825)

          The genus name comes from the Greek erythros (red), for some unknown reason. About a hundred species overall, four of which grow in the Philippines: E. boettcheri Ames; E. vrydagzynoides Ames; E. weberi Ames; E. wenzelii Ames.


Eulophia R. Brown ex Lindley (1823)

          Name derived from the Greek words eu (well, true) and lophos (plume), referring to the ridges of the callus or crest on the lip. About 200 terrestrial species, with ten in the Philippines:

Eulophia andamanensis Rchb.f.               E. dentate Ames

Eulophia gramineae Naves                    E. macrostachya Lindl.

Eulophia merrillii Ames                               E. pulchra (Thouars) Lindl.

Eulophia squalida Lindl.                               E. stricta (Presl) Ames

Eulophia vanovrerberghii Ames                        E. zollingeri (Rchb.f.) J.J. Smith



Galeola J. Loureiro (1790)

          Name derived from the Latin galea (helmet), referring to the shape of the lip.  These nearly leafless saprophytic orchids grow on rotting wood, require a symbiotic fungus, and are related to Vanilla, growing 15 meters or more up trees.  Four Philippine representatives of the 25 total species: Galeola altissima (Bl.) Rchb.f.; G. kuhlii Rchb.f.; G. nudiflora Lour.; G. philippinensis Ames.


Gastrodia R. Brown (1810)

          Named from the Greek gastrodes (pot-bellied), referring to the flowers. Saprophytic and deciduous (how would you tell?). There are about 30 in the genus, and a sole representative in the Philippines: Gastrodia javanica (Bl.) Lindl.


Geodorum G. Jackson (1810)

          Name taken from the Greek geo (earth) and doron (gift).  Ten deciduous terrestrials with plicate leaves and nodding inflorescenses of clustered flowers that do not open widely. Grows in warm conditions, 0-100m. One species in the Philippines: Geodorum densiflorum (Lam.) Schltr.


Goodyera R. Brown (1813)

          Named for John Goodyer (1592-1664), an English plant collector and botanist.

About 165 species, nine in the Philippines:

Goodyera clausa Schltr.                    G. elmeri (Ames) Ames

Goodyera fumata Thw.           G. grandis (Bl.) Bl.

Goodyera luzonensis Ames G. philippinensis (Ames) Schltr.

Goodyera procera (Ker.-Gawl.) Hook.

Goodyera ramosii Ames           G. viridiflora Bl.



Habenaria Willdenow (1805)

          From the Greek habena (straps, reins) for the long, slender lateral lobes of the lip. A large genus with 600-700 species; about 24 in the Philippines.





Jim Comber (1990). Orchids of Java.


Eduardo Quisumbing (1951). “Coelogyne of the Philippines,” in: Phil. Orchid Rev. 4(2):8-14.


Helen L. Valmayor (1984)  Orchidiana Philippiniana.  Manila: Eugenio Lopez Foundation, two volumes in slipcases.