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Cymbidium Sw.


Description from Flora of China

Cyperorchis Blume; Iridorchis Blume (1859), not Iridorkis Thouars (1809); Jensoa Rafinesque; Liuguishania Z. J. Liu & J. N. Zhang; Semiphajus Gagnepain, p.p.; Wutongshania Z. J. Liu & J. N. Zhang.

Herbs, epiphytic, lithophytic, or terrestrial, autotrophic or rarely mycotrophic, usually with pseudobulbs. Pseudobulbs ovoid, ellipsoid, or spindle-shaped, rarely absent or stemlike, often enclosed in leaf bases. Leaves several to many, distichous, usually lorate or linear, rarely oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, often articulate toward base. Inflorescence arising from base of pseudobulb or rarely from axils of leaves, erect to pendulous; rachis several to many flowered, rarely reduced to a solitary flower; floral bracts persistent. Flowers large or medium-sized. Sepals and petals free, subsimilar; lip free or basally fused for 3-6 mm to base of column, usually 3-lobed; lateral lobes erect, often clasping column; mid-lobe often recurved; disk usually with 2 longitudinal lamellae extending from base of lip to base of mid-lobe; lamellae sometimes inflated toward apex or broken in middle. Column rather long, often slightly arcuate, often narrowly winged; pollinia 2 and deeply cleft, or 4 and in 2 unequal pairs, waxy, commonly attached by a very short or indistinct caudicle to a usually broad viscidium.

In China, many species of Cymbidium have been cultivated as ornamentals for many centuries, and a number of cultivated species that have been selected from wild populations now exhibit extreme variation; this is particularly true of C. ensifolium, C. goeringii, C. sinense, and C. tortisepalum. Some of this variability may be the result of hybridization and introgression in the wild. The large number of recently described naturally occurring hybrids in Cymbidium can be explained by the rapid increase of disturbed habitats in China, which has allowed previously ecologically isolated but sympatric species to colonize disturbed areas, such as those left after logging or land-use change.

Cymbidium gongshanense H. Li & G. H. Feng (Acta Bot. Yunnan. 11: 39. 1989) may be a cultivated hybrid.

About 55 species: tropical and subtropical Asia, south to Papua New Guinea and Australia; 49 species (19 endemic) in China.

(Authors: Liu Zhongjian (刘仲健), Chen Xinqi (陈心启 Chen Sing-chi); Phillip J. Cribb)

  • List of lower taxa


    Related Objects  

    Flora of China  
  • Cymbidium.pdf
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