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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Epidendrum (upon trees, alluding to their epiphytal habit). Orchidaceae. Epiphytic orchids, some requiring hothouse and some coolhouse conditions; although a large genus, of minor importance horticulturally.

Inflorescence simple or branched, nearly always terminal; claw of the labellum more or less adnate to footless column, the blade spreading and usually deeply lobed; pollinia 4, 2 in each anther-cell, separated.— Nearly 500 species discovered and described from the New World tropics, chiefly from Cent. Amer.

Cultivation of epidendrums.

Epidendrums are noted as the rankest weeds amongst the orchid tribes. The remarkable success in the raising of hybrids, be it in the genus itself or with the related Cattleya and Laelia, has opened a wide field for the breeder. Epidendrum seedlings grow freely; the time required to bring them to the flowering stage is little compared with other orchids, and it is but a question of a short time till the blood of the epidendrums will be infused into the weaker but more gorgeous flowers of genera more difficult to grow. It is also the long stem and the grace of the racemes of the epidendra, as well as the odor of some of their species, which the hybridist will try to blend with the largeness of short- stemmed flowers, of cattleyas for example. Therefore a list of the species but rarely found under cultivation is given below, the value of which, however, will call for and justify large importations of their kind before long. It is scarcely possible to apply any one rule for the cultivation of this widely divergent and large genus, which includes many hundreds of variable individuals geographically distributed all over tropical America. For convenience they are treated under their several separate sections.

Section I. Barkeria embraces several deciduous small-growing species which generally deteriorate sooner or later under cultivation. They succeed best in small baskets, suspended from the roof, in rough loose material, such as coarse peat fiber, with a small quantity of live chopped sphagnum moss added to retain moisture, this compost freely interspersed with pieces of charcoal or broken crocks or potsherds. They are all subjects for the coolhouse, require a free moist atmosphere, shade from the sun while growing, and must be syringed frequently overhead in bright weather. After the plants have matured growth, they should be removed to a rather sunny location and be syringed overhead often enough to keep them in sound condition until they start new action. While resting during winter the temperature may range from 50° to 55° F. at night, and a few degrees higher during, the day. They are increased by division. This should take place as the plants start growth action in early spring, allowing at least three pseudobulbs to each piece.

Section II. Encyclium, of which E. atropurpureum, E. nemorale and E. prismatocarpum are good examples, may be grown either in pots or baskets in equal parts clean peat fiber and live chopped sphagnum, with a liberal amount of drainage, and excepting E. vitellinum, which must be grown cool, they require a moist sunny location with a winter temperature of 58° to 65° F. by night and several degrees advance during the day. In February and March, many species will start root or growth action; such as need it should then be repotted or top-dressed, as occasion requires. The temperature should be increased several degrees, and a greater amount of water be allowed with frequent overhead syringing on bright days. Ventilation should be given whenever the weather will permit, to keep the young growths from damping-off and the atmosphere active; at this time the plants will need light shading to prevent sun-burning. The stock is increased by cutting nearly through the rhizome three or four bulbs behind the lead, when starting action; this will generally cause the latent eyes to grow, but the pieces should not be removed until the new growth is well advanced.

Section III. Aulizeum includes such species as E. ciliare, E. cochleatum, and the like, the several requirements being identical with the preceding.

Section IV. Euepidendrum. These are mostly tall- growing species, some reed-like as in E. evectum, and others rambling in an irregular way, producing aerial roots along the stems as they grow; a good example of this is seen in E. radicans. All are best grown in pots and placed near a partition or end of a greenhouse where support may be given as the growth advances. There is, in fact, no better example of an epiphyte than E. radicans, the roots often attaining several feet in length, and appearing from nearly every node. A structure in which 50° F. is maintained in winter will be ample, and full exposure to sun should be permitted at all times. This prevents immature growth, and flowers are produced very freely. After flowering time, young shoots appear, often from the old stems, and when a few roots are formed and before they become too lone to go into a small pot without injury, remove them and pot with care, place the young plants in a shady place for a few weeks; in this way propagation is easily accomplished. This section of epidendrums produce seeds the largest known among orchids. They are green in color, and under favorable conditions germinate very readily. It is, in fact, much easier to get the seeds to grow than to get the species to produce good seeds, for when flowering plants are produced from seed, there is an infinite variation that has not yet been understood.

Section V. Psilanthemum contains but one species, E. Stamfordianum, which requires the same general treatment as those in Section II. Robert M. Grey. E. O. Orpet.

Garden hybrids: E. Berkeleyi (E. Stamfordianum X E. O'Brienianum).—E. Burtonii (E. O'Brienianum X E. ibaguense).—E. Clarrissa superbum (E. elegantulum X E. Wallisii).—E. dellense (E. xanthinumxE. radicans).—E. elegantulum (E. Wallisii xE. Endresio-Wallisii). G.C. III. 19:361.—E. Endresio-Wallisii.—E. kewense (E. evectumxE. xanthinum).—E. O'Brienianum (E. evectum x E. radicans). G.C. III. 3:771.—E. Phoebus (E. O'Brienianum xE. vitellinum).—E. radicanti-Stamfordianum.—E. radico-vitellinum,—E. Wallisio-ciliare.—E. xantho-radicans.

Euepidendrum: E. arachnoglossum, Andre. Sts. 4-5 ft.: fls. rich purple-lilac; lip fringed, with orange calli. Colombia. R.H. 1882:554.—E. Claesianum, Cogn. Sts. up to 2 ft. tall: racemes numerous, pendulous; fls. pure white. Colombia. G.C. III. 29:70.— E. cnemidophorum, Lindl. Sts. 4-3 ft.: racemes ample, drooping; fls. purple, brown and yellow, fragrant. Guatemala, 7,000 ft. B.M. 5656?—E. conopseum, R. Br. Scape few-to many-fld.: lvs. 1-3, thick: fls. green, tinged with purple, the sepals spatulate and revolute, the petals narrower and obtuse. S. Fla. and S. Once offered by Reasoner.—E. Cooperianum, Batem. Sts. 2-3 ft.: fls. yellow-green; lip bright purple. Brazil. B.M. 5654.—fl. costatum, Rich. & Gal. Raceme nodding; fls. about 1 in. across, the sepals and petals reddish brown, the lip whitish, purple-marked. Mex. G.C. III. 44:425.—E. decipiens, Lindl. Fls. orange or vermilion. Colombia. —E. Ellisii, Rolfe. Fls. carmine-rose, very handsome. Colombia. E. fulgens, Brongn. Fls. orange-scarlet, in crowded racemes. Guiana to Brazil.—E. gracilis, Lindl., was once offered by John Saul.—E. ibaguense, HBK. Sts. 2-3 ft.: fls. orange-scarlet; lip yellow. Colombia to Peru, 4,500 ft.—E. Lambeauanum, De Wild. Sepals and petals whitish, the lip claret. G.C. III. 44:228.—B. myrianthum, Lindl. Si-. 3-5 ft.: enormous panicles of rich purple fls.; lip with 2 yellow calli. Guatemala. B.M. 5556.—E. nocturnum. Linn. Sts. 2-3 ft.: peduncles 8-10-fld.; fls. white and yellowish, 5 in. across, very fragrant. S. Fla. and Mex. to Peru and W. Indies. B.M. 3298. Once offered by Reasoner.—E. palpigerum, Reichb. f. Fls. beautiful lilac. Mex.—B. Pfavii, Rolfe. Sts. 4-6 ft. high: fls. light purple; lip with white disk, in numerous racemes. Costa Rica.— E. Pseudepidendrum, Reichb. f. Sts. 2-3 ft.: fls. 3 in. diam., green: lip orange-red and yellow. Cent. Amer., 4,000 ft. B.M. 5929.— E. raniferum, Lindl. Sts. 2-3 ft.: fls. yellow-green, thickly spotted with purple. Mex. to Guiana. B.R. 28:42.—B. rigidum, Jacq., was once catalogued by Reasoner.—E. Schomburgkii, Lindl. Sta. 2-3 ft.: fls. vermilion. Guiana, Brazil, Quito. B.R. 24:53.—E. stenopetalum, Hook. Sts. up to 2 ft.: fls. 1½ in. across, rosy mauve, the lip with a white blotch. Jamaica. B.M. 3410.—E. spyringothyrsis, Reichb. f. Sts. 4-5 ft.: fls. deep purple; lip and column with orange and yellow, crowded in long racemes. Bolivia, 8,000-9,000 ft. B.M. 6145.—E. Wallisii, Reichb. f. Sts. 4-6 ft.: fls. yellow, some purple spots; lip orange and purple, upon white ground. Colombia. 4,000-7,000 ft. Has lateral as well as terminal racemes.

Encyclium: E. advena, Reichb. f. Fls. yellow, veined brown; lip yellowish white, purple-streaked. Brazil.—E. alatum, Batem. Fls. 2 in. across, purple and green; lip yellowish, streaked with purple, fragrant. Cent. Amer. B.M. 3898.—E. bifidum, Aubl. Fls. pale green, dotted with purple; lip rose, orange and white. W. Indies. Guiana. B.R. 1879.— E. Friderici-Guilielmi. Warsc. A Reichb. f. Bulbs 4-5 ft.: fls. dark purple; base of Up white and yellow. Peru, 6,000-8.000 ft. I.H. 18:48.—E. gallopavinum, Reichb. f. Fls. brown in large racemes; lip yellow. Brazil.—E. oncidioides, Lindl. Panicles up to 6 ft. long; fls. yellow and brown, sweet-scented. Stately species. Guiana. B.R. 1023.—K. phaniceum, Lindl. Panicles 2-3 ft.; fls. deep purple, mottled green; lip rich violet, stained crimson. Handsome. Cuba.—F. virgatum, Lindl. Scape up to 7 ft. high; fls. small, up to 20, greenish, stained brown. Mex.

Aulizeum: E. variegatum. Hook. Racemes many-fld.; fls. fragrant; sepals and petals pale yellow, the lip rose or white-and- rose-spotted. S. Amer. B.M. 3151.

Other species mentioned in horticultural literature arc: E. campyIostalyx. Reichb. f. A curious species with glaucous green pseudobulbs and lvs.: fls. yellowish tinged with chocolate color. Cent. Amer.—/-'. Lambda, Lind. Closely allied to E. fragrans. Sepals and petals light salmon-color; lip cream-yellow with violet lines; crest velvety. Colombia.—E. laterale, Hort. Infl. produced on a rudimentary pseudobulb as in E. Stamfordianum. Cent. Amer.— E. pterocarpum, Lindl. Of diminutive growth, chiefly of botanical interest. Mex.—E. punctiferum, Reichb. f. Fls. in erect spikes, green, the lip spotted with purple. Brazil.—E, purpurachylum, Rodr. "Sepals and petals dull olive-green, tinged with brown; corrugated front lobe of lip deep purple, with whitish yellow margin; fls. fragrant, not unlike violets."—E. saccharatum, Kranzl. Raceme 15-20-fld.; fls. green, marked with dark brown; lip white, rose-purple at apex. Guiana.—E. Staliforthianum, Kranzl. Sepals and petals dull brown; column ivory-white; fls. have a peculiar and disagreeable odor. Mex. G.C. III. 51:114.—E. tripunctatum, Lindl. Intro. in 1881 and now reappearing in cult. George Hansen. George V. Nash.

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.

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Epidendrum ciliare
Epidendrum ciliare
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Family: Orchidaceae
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Subtribe: Laeliinae
Genus: Epidendrum
L., 1763
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Binomial name
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Type Species
Epidendrum nocturnum
Jacq., 1760
About 1,100 species - See List of Epidendrum species.

Epidendrum (commonly known as the star orchid or crucifix orchid), is a large neotropical genus of the orchid family. With more than 1,100 species, some authors refer to it as a mega-genus. The genus name (from Greek, "growing on trees") refers to its epiphytic growth habit. When Carolus Linnaeus named this genus in 1763, he included in this genus all the epiphytic orchids known to him. However, few of these orchids are still included in the genus Epidendrum.


Distribution and ecology

They are native to the tropics and subtropical regions of the American continent, from South Carolina to Argentina. Their habitat is mostly epiphytic, a few are terrestrial or rarely growing on bare rock, such as Epidendrum calanthum and Epidendrum saxatile. Most are to be found in the Andes, at altitudes between 1,000 and 3,000 m. Their habitat varies from humid jungles to dry tropical forests, from sunny grassy slopes to cool cloud forests.


They are very varied in flower size and appearance. They grow in tufts, in racemose inflorescences, sometimes in corymbs or panicles. The apical, lateral or basal flowers are mostly small to medium in size and are not marked by a conspicuous display. They are borne on a dense inflorescence. Many species are fragrant. The flowers may be produced only once, or during several years from the same or new racemes. The ellipsoid fruits are 3-ribbed capsules.

This genus has the following characteristics :

  • a slit rostellum (small extension or little beak to the median stigma lobe), giving a transparent or white thick and adhesive liquid.
  • the fringed lip is adnate to ( = united with) the column (forming a nectary tube (but rarely producing nactar), continuing through the pedicel).
  • the pollinarium contains 4 pollinia (with sometimes 2 very reduced pollinia), rarely only 2 pollinia.
  • the erect stems are reed-like, simple or branching, but can also contain pseudobulbs or thickened stems.
Epidendrum radicans in the wild.
Epidendrum sp. in the wild.


The following genera have been brought into synonymy with Epidendrum: Amphiglottis Salisb., Anacheilium Hoffmanns., Anocheile Hoffmanns. ex Rchb., Auliza Small, Coilostylis Raf., Didothion Raf.,, Diothonea Lindl., Dothilophis Raf., Doxosma Raf., Epicladium Small, Epidanthus L.O.Williams, Epidendropsis Garay & Dunst., Exophya [[Constantine Samue l Rafinesque-Schmaltz|Raf.]], Hemiscleria Lindl., Kalopternix Garay & Dunst., Lanium (Lindl.) Benth., Larnandra Raf., Microepidendrum Brieger (nom. inval.), Minicolumna Brieger (nom. inval.), Nanodes Lindl., Neolehmannia Kraenzl., Neowilliamsia Garay, Nyctosma Raf., Phadrosanthus Neck. ex Raf., Physinga Lindl., Pleuranthium Benth., Pseudepidendrum Rchb.f., Seraphyta Fisch. & C.A.Mey., Spathiger Small, Stenoglossum Kunth, Tritelandra Raf..


This huge genus contains more than 2,000 names (about 1,100 accepted names and the rest have become synonyms of other species). More than 1,000 have been split off into new genera such as Barkeria, Dimerandra, Encyclia, Oerstedella, Psichylus and Nanodes. However, it is estimated that there are more than 2,000 Epidendrum orchids, many of which still have to be discovered. More than 400 new species have lately been described by Eric Hágsater and colleagues (see: Reference).

These botanists have been honored, along with several other Epidendrum researchers, with an Epidendrum orchid named after them:


Only a few natural hybrids have been named, such as Epidendrum × doroteae, Epidendrum × gransabanense and Epidendrum × purpureum. Epidendrum hybrids readily with Cattleya (Epicattleya) and other related genera. It is not uncommon for one to come across multi-genera hybrids, for example, Yamadara (Brassavola × Cattleya × Epidendrum × Laelia).


Although the flowers of most Epidendrum species are rather small and not very showy, these orchids are nevertheless widely cultivated, such as Epidendrum secundum, Epidendrum radicans, Epidendrum ibaguense and Epidendrum cinnabarinum.

Most Epidendrum species require intermediate to warm conditions for culture, although a few of the commonly cultivated species, such as Epidendrum radicans grow in cool conditions. In Auckland and other sub-tropical regions of New Zealand, the cool growing plants will flower all year round. While they are normally grown in pots, it is also possible to grow them in a bark garden.


  • Hagsater, E., Sanchez Saldana, L., and Garcia Cruz, J. (eds.) 1999. Icones Orchidacearum: fascicle 3. The genus Epidendrum: part 2. "A second century of new species in Epidendrum". Herbario AMO, Mexico D.F.
  • Hagsater, E. 2001. Icones Orchidacearum: Fascicle 4. The Genus Epidendrum. Part 3, "A Third Century of New Species in Epidendrum". Asociacion Mexic

ana de Orquideologia A.C., Mexico, D.F.

  • Hágsater, E. 2004. The genus Epidendrum. Part 4. A fourth century of new species in Epidendrum. Icon. Orchid. 7: pl. 701-800.

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