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 Bulbophyllum subsp. var.  
Bulbophyllum echinolabium
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Orchidaceae > Bulbophyllum var. , houars

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Bulbophyllum is the largest genus in the orchid family Orchidaceae. With 1803 species, it is also one of the largest genera in the entire plant kingdom, exceeded only by Senecio and Euphorbia. This genus is abbreviated in the trade journals as Bulb.

This genus was first described by Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars (botanical abbreviation Thouars) in his book "Histoire particulière des plantes orchidées recueillies sur les trois Iles Australes d’Afrique, de France, de Bourbon et de Madagascar", describing 17 Bulbophyllum species. There are now more than 2,800 records (accepted names and synonyms) for this genus. This large number and the great variety of its forms make this genus a real nightmare for a taxonomist: 120 sections and subgenera have been listed. Some of these may deserve a generic status. Several species have as many as ten synonyms. Up to now a general review of this genus is lacking. But as Carlyle A. Luer of Missouri Botanical Garden disentangled the similar chaos in the Pleurothallidinae, so we may expect that a phylogenetic study of this genus will gain us a better insight in this large genus.[citation needed]

The scientific name has been derived from the Latin word bulbus (bulb-like) and the Greek word phyllon (leaf), referring to the pseudobulbs on top of which the leaf is growing.

Two small Australian species, the previous B. globuliforme and B. minutissimum, were placed in 1961, in a new genus, Oncophyllum, of which they are the only members, and are now named Oncophyllum globuliforme and Oncophyllum minutissimum.[1]

The center of diversity of this genus is in the montage forests of Papua New Guinea (more than 600 species) which seems to be the evolutionary[citation needed] homeland, though the genus is pantropical and widespread occurring in Australia, Southeast Asia with over 200 species in Borneo), Africa Madagascar (with 135 species, some endemic) and in tropical central and South America.

The general characteristics for this genus are : single-noded pseudobulbs, the basal inflorescence and the mobile lip.

This genus covers an incredible range of vegetative forms, from tall plants with cane-like stems, to root climbers that wind or creep their way up tree trunks. Other members are pendulous epiphytes (growing on other plants), and quite a number that have developed succulent foliage to a greater or lesser degree. Some species are lithophytic. One species has almost become leafless and uses its pseudobulbs as the organs of photosynthesis.

These orchids with a sympodial growth have rhizomatous stems with often angled pseudobulbs. The thin to leathery leaves are folded lengthwise.

Many Bulbophyllum species have the typical odor of rotting carcasses, and the flies they attract assist in their reproduction through pollination.

The erect to pendent inflorescence arises laterally from the base of the pseudobulb. The flower form has a basic structural blueprint that serves to identify this genus. But this form can be very diverse : compound or single, with few to many flowers, with the resupinate flowers arranged spirally or in two vertical ranks. The sepals and the petals can also be very varied : straight or turned down, without footstalk or with a long claw at the base. They are often hairy of callous. There are two to four hard and waxy pollinia with stipes present or absent. The fruits are beakless capsules.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Bulbophyllum (Greek, bulb-leaf). Orchidaceae. Epiphytic plants, creeping upon rocks or trees; cult, in the warmhouse.

Pseudobulbs 1-2-lvd in the axils of the sheaths, and with the infl. arising from the base of the pseudobulb: fls. small and numerous in a raceme, or larger and few or solitary; dorsal sepal erect or spreading, free, equaling or shorter than the lateral, which are obliquely broadened at the base and adnate to the foot of the column; petals shorter than or nearly equaling the sepals; lip articulated to the foot of the column, incumbent upon the column; pollinia 4.—A genus of about 125 species, mostly natives of Trop. Asia and Afr.— Bulbophyllum needs a moist atmosphere and should not become dry. Grown on pieces of wood or tree-fern stems.

B. aurmimum. Lindl. Burma.—B. barbigerum.Lindl. Lip long, narrow, with a tuft of long purple hairs at the apex. Trop. Afr.—B. Binnendijkii, J._J. Smith. Java.—B. birmtnte. Schlecht. Fls. orange-yellow, very small. Burma.—B. Billneridnum, Schlecht. Fls. golden yellow: bracts leafy, greenish white, rose-dotted. Siam.—B. calabaricum, Rolfe. Fls. small, light yellowish green, with a dull reddish purple lip. W. Trop. Afr.—B. campanulatum, Rolfe. Sumatra.—B. capilullflorum, Rolfe. Fls. very small; sepals and petals whitish green; lip deep purple. W. Trop. Afr.—B.chrytocephalum. Sohlecht. Dwarf plant: fls. yellow. S. E. Asia.—B. comuium. C. and M. Burma.—B. crenutatum, Rolfe. Madagascar.—B. cylindraceum, Lindl. Himalayas.—B. Dayanum. Reichb. Burma.—B. dichramum, Rolfe. Annam.—B. Dixonii, Rolfe. Fls. small, greenish yellow with numerous dark brown spots: petals with bristle-like tails at the apex. Siam.—B. Ericasonii, Kranzl. Fls. umbellate, the sepals and petals green, spotted with purple-brown, the lip triangular, broadly cordate at base, acute, marked with red-brown. Malay Archipelago.—B. ezatatum, Lindl.. Sepals light green, dotted with brown; lip blackish purple, much fringed. Brazil, British Guiana.—B. fascinator, Rolfe. Annam. B.M. 8199.—B. futcopurpureum, Wight. Fls. dull reddish brown, about 1 in. across, S. India.—B. galbinum, Riddell. Malay Penin.— Rolfe. Scape 1-2 ft. long, bearing a densely fld. spike; fls. scarcely long; sepals and petals straw-colored and purple. Trop. Afr.—B. glutinosum, Cogn. Vis. arranged in 2 rows in short spikes; sepals greenish, spotted inside with red; petals minute, white: lip red. Brazil.—B. inunctum,J. J. Smith. Fls. larger than in B. Lobbii; sepals densely dotted with purple; petals long and drooping. Borneo.—B. Kerrii, Rolfe. Lvs. oblong, deciduous: fls. dull yellow, pubescent. Siam.—B. Kindtianum. Wildem. Similar to B. barbigeram, but the hairs on the lip are not club-shaped. Congo Free State.— B. lemniscatca, Rolfe. Java(T).—B.ItmnitcMum. Pax. Burma.—B. llpidum, J. J. Smith -Curhopetalum.—B. ilacinum, Ridley. Fls. in dense racemes or epikea, lilac spotted with purple. Siam.—B. longitipalum, Rolfe. New Guinea.—B. macrdnthum. Lindl. Burma and Malay Archipelago.—B. mandibula, Reichb. f. Borneo. — B. Medusx, Reichb. f. Malay. — B. micropitalum Rodrig. A small plant with spikes of tiny transparent green fls. with prominent blackish purple stripes. Brazil.—B. minidlum, Rolfe. Resembles B. barbigerum but has a broader labellum with white feather-like processes Congo Free State.—fl. minim. J. J. Smith. Remarkable for its curious fls.; lateral sepals united; petals consisting of a email round disk with motor filaments. Malaya. — B. morpholofarum, Hort. Fls. curious in having a small triangular plate between the dorsal and lateral sepals, Siam.—B. iliurixctiui, Rolfe. Sepals yellow dotted with blackbh purple; petals and lip blackish purple. Siam.—fl. nuditcapum, Rolfe. Allied to B. barbigerum. Congo.—B. orthogtottum, Kranz. Malaya.—B. Pahúdii. Reichb. f. Malaya.—B. papillatum, Finet. Raceme twice as long as Lvs.; rachis and bracts green; lip dark purple. French Congo.—B. Pechci, Bull. Burma. —B. olublfpharon, Schlecht. Fls. solitary, dark purple. New Guinea.—B. propfncuum, Hort. Fls. green with dense purple reticulation. Siam. — B. quadrlfArium, Rolfe. Fls. inconspicuous. Madagascar.—B. radialum. Lindl. Fls. yellowish white, with narrow lanceolate petals and sepals: Lf. linear. India.—B. trfmulum, Wight. E. Indies. —B. Indmtatum, Rolfe. Allied to B. mandibulare. British New Guinea.— Rolfe. Fla. arranged like the bracts in 3 rows, dull, lurid purple, with numerous darker spots on the sepals. Madagascar.— Thouara. Fls. umbellate; sepals and petals 4-5 in. long, palogreen, the veins and nervea brown; lip rather fleshy, about kin. long, cordate-ovate, pale green, purple at the base. Java.—Reichb. f. Brazil.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


List of Bulbophyllum species

1805 species, including:
Bulb. barbigerum (Bearded Bulbophylllum)
Bulb. beccarii
Bulb. crassulifolium (Wheat-leaved Bulbophyllum)
Bulb. falcatum
Bulb. flaviflorum (Golden comb orchid)
Bulb. fletcherianum (Tongue Orchid)
Bulb. globuliforme
Bulb. macphersonii
Bulb. macraei (Wu-lai cirrous orchid)
Bulb. makayanum (Daisy orchid)
Bulb. medusae
Bulb. pachyrhachis (Rattail orchid)
Bulb. purpurea (Lizard Orchid)
Bulb. retusiusculum (Yellow comb orchid)
Bulb. transarisanense (Lily orchid)

Some species are known for their extremes of vegetive and floral form:

New species are being discovered every year, such as

  • Bulbophyllum ciluliae Bianch. & J.A.N.Bat., Sitientibus 2004
  • Bulbophyllum orezii Sath.Kumar 2004

There is one intergeneric hybrid : Triasphyllum (abbr.: Tphm.) (Bulbophyllum x Trias)

A number of Bulbophyllum species are threatened with extinction, and are recognised as such by the World Conservation Union (IUCN):

genus synonyms include:

  • Anisopetalum Hkr. 1825.
  • Bolbophyllaria Rchb.f 1852.
  • Bolbophyllum Spreng. 1826.
  • Cochlia Bl. 1825.
  • Didactyle Lindley 1852.
  • Diphyes Bl. 1825.
  • Ephippium Blume 1825.
  • Epicranthes Bl. 1825.
  • Epicrianthes Bl. 1828.
  • Gersinia Neraud. 1826.
  • Henosis Hkr.f 1890.
  • Katherinea A. D. Hawkes 1956.
  • Lyraea Lindl. 1830.
  • Macrolepis A. Rich. 1834.
  • Malachadenia Lindley 1839.
  • Megaclinium Lindley 1826.
  • Odontostyles Breda 1827.
  • Osyricera Bl. 1825.
  • Oxysepala Wight 1851.
  • Phyllorchis Thou. 1822.
  • Sarcopodium Lindley & Paxton 1850.
  • Sestochilos Breda 1828.
  • Sunipia Lindley 1826.
  • Taurostalix Rchb.f. 1852.
  • Tribrachia Lindley 1824.
  • Xiphizusa Rchb.f 1852.
  • Zygoglossum Reinw. 1826 [1828].



  1. D.L.Jones et M.A.Clements, Orchadian 13(9): 421 (2001).

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