Home > Orchids of Kerala

Orchids of Kerala

The 252 species, 3 subspecies and a solitary variety of orchids belonging to 79 genera known to occur in Kerala India

Kerala, recognised in the present form in 1956, is one of the smallest states in the extreme southwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, bordered on the north by the state of Karnataka, on the east and south by Tamil Nadu and washed on the west by Arabian Sea. It lies between latitudes 08.2 degree N and longitudes 74.7 degree and 77.5 degree E covering an area of 38,864 Sq.Km., which is 1% of the total land area of India. Kerala is isolated from the Deccan plateau by the mountainous belt of Western Ghats. The average height of the Western Ghats in Kerala is about 950m., but the High Ranges rise up to 2695 m. (Anamudi, the highest peak south of the Himalayas). This region is blessed with high rainfall, good drainage, diverse soil types and wide ranging altitudes, all factors contributing to the exuberance of its vegetation. Accordingly, deciduous forests, tropical evergreen forests and temperate evergreen forest formations occur at suitable elevations. The plant wealth of the state, especially the species and condiments, timber, etc. attracted traders, travelers and maritime powers down centuries.

kerala location map

1. Thiruvananthapuram 2. Kollam 3. Pathanamthitta 4. Alappuzha 5. Kottayam 6. Idukki 7. Ernakulam 8. Thrissur 9. Palghat 10. Malappuram 11. Kozhikode 12. Wayanad 13. Kannur 14. Kasargod

acampe Acampe

An old world genus of about 6 epiphytic or lithophytic species characterized by woody habit, thick and fleshy leves and a lateral raceme or panicle of peculiarly brittle flowers marked by brown stripes. Five species are known from India with four known to occur in Kerala:-

acanthephippium Acanthephippium

An Indo-Malesian genus of 11 species characterized by thick and fleshy many leaved rhizomes and a lateral raceme of large and showy jug-shaped flowers. Three species are known from India, but only one - Acanthephippium bicolor Lindl occurs in Kerala, also recorded from Sri Lanka.

aenhenrya Aenhenrya

A monospecific genus belonging to the subtribe Goodyerinae, endemic to south India and is a new addition to the popular group of jewel orchids. Like Anoectochilus, to which this was earlier placed, Aenhenrya has a decumbent rhizome, an erect mottled leafy stem and a terminal inflorescence of unusually large, often solitary, rarely two flowers, Pollinarium of Aenhenrya is the largest known in the whole subtribe and the lip is likewise unique.

aerides Aerides

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 20 predominantly epiphytic, very rarely lithophytic species with long, stout, stems, loriform leaves and a simple or branched, erect or pendulous raceme of large showy flowers. Eight species are known from India. Three species are known from Kerala.

anoectochilus Anoectochilus

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 35-40 species of ground orchids, Anoectochilus is represented in India by 13 species. Two species are found in Kerala.

Aphyllorchis

An Indo-Malesio-Australasian genus of about 30 species of saprophytic orchids, Aphyllorchis is represented in India by 5 species. Only one species is known to occur in south India including Kerala.

arundina Arundina

An Indo-Malesian genus of perhaps one highly variable species of reedy ground orchids characterized by grass-like leaves and showy flowers.

brachycorythis Brachycorythis

An old World genus of 55 terrestrial species, this genus is represented in India by 8 dpecies. Three species have been reported to occur in Kerala.

bulbophyllum Bulbophyllum

A pantropical genus of about 900 epiphytic or lithophytic species, Bulbophyllum is represented in India by 87 species. Sixteen species are known to occur in Kerala.

calanhe Calanthe

A pantropical genus of about 150 terrestrial species Calanthe is represented in India by 25 species. Two species have been recorded from kerala .

cheirostylis Cheirostylis

An Old World genus of about 25 species of delicate ground herbs, Cheirostylis is represented in India by 10 species .two species occur in Kerala .

chiloschista Chiloschista

An Indo-Malesian genus of 20-25 epiphytic species , Chiloschista is represented in India by 4 species. Two species are found in Kerala.

chrysoglossum Chrysoglossum

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 6-10 species of terrestrial orchids, Chrysoglossum is represented in India by 3 species .Only one species occurs in Kerala.

Cirrhopetalum

An Old World genus of 96 species of epiphytic orchids, Cirrhopetalum is represented in India by 10 species .Two species are found in Kerala .The status of this genus was long under debate since its establishment until Garay et al.(1994) resurrected it.

cleisostoma Cleisostoma

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 90 species of epiphytic orchids, Cleisostoma is represented in India by 18 species . Only one species occurs in Kerala, first discovered and illustrated by Van Rheede (1693), who called it Tsjerou Mau Maravara , a pre Linnean name .

coelogyne Coelogyne

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 200 species of epiphytic or lithophytic orchids, Coelogyne is represented in India by 35 species . Four species are found in Kerala.

Corymborkis

A pantropical genus of 5 species of terrestrial orchids , Corymborkis is represented in India by a single species , C. veratrifolia (Reinw. ) Bl. ,also recorded from Kerala .

Cottonia

A monotypic Indo-Sri Lankan genus of monopodial orchid characterized by Vandaceous habit and very long peduncle of many bee-shaped flowers .

Crepidium

Crepidium is an Indo-Malesio-Australasian genus described by Blume (1825) and till recently sunken under Malaxis Sol. ex Sw. when Szlachetko (1995) reinstated it distinguishing from other related genera by the lip auricles which stretch backwards on both sides of the gynostemium .The genus has over 200 species with 14 species recorded from India .Two species are found in Kerala.

cymbidium Cymbidium

An Indo-Malesian genus of 44 species of both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids, Cymbidium is represented in India by 24 species .two species and one subspecies are found in Kerala .

dendrobium Dendrobium

An Indo-Malesio-Australasian genus of about 900 species of epiphytic or lithophytic orchids, Dendrobium is represented in India by 102 species and two subspecies . Seventeen species and two subspecies are found in kerala.

Didymoplexis

An Old World genus of about 10 species of delicate saprophytic orchids with tuberoid rhizome and a slender stem terminating in a raceme of white to straw coloured flowers . Three species are available in India, of which two occur in Kerala .

dienia Dienia

An Indo-Malesian genus of perhaps one, highly variable species characterized by the lip which is 3-lobed at apex with a basal transverse callus.This genus was till recently merged under Malaxis and was resurrected by Szlachetko (1995). Dienia ophrydis is the only species.

Diplocentrum

An Indo-Sri Lankan genus of two species of epiphytic orchids, both found in Kerala .

diploprora Diploprora

An Indo-Malesian genus of 6 epiphytic species of orchids , Diploprora is represented in India by a solitary species , which is also found in Kerala .

disperis Disperis

A paleotropic genus of about 80 (mostly African) species of delicate ground orchids, Disperis is represented in India by two species , both found in Kerala.

Epipogium

A widespread genus of some 6 species of saprophytic orchids, Epipogium is represented in India by all species . Only one species has been recorded from kerala .

eria Eria

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 500 species of epiphytic of lithophytic orchids, Eria is represented in India by 55 species and 2 varieties . Twelve species and one variety are found in Kerala .

eulophia Eulophia

An Old World gensu of about 200 species of ground orchids(with a few saprophytic and rarely epiphytic members), Eulophia is represented in India by 26 species . Seven species are found in kerala .

Flickingeria

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 65-70 species of epiphytic orchids, Flickingeria is represented in India by 7 species. Only one species is known to occur in Kerala .

gastrochilus Gastrochilus

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 50 species of epiphytic orchids, gastrochilus is represented in India by 19 species .Three species are known to occur in kerala.

Gastrodia

Gastrodia is a saprophytic genus of about 30 species distributed from Madagascar through Indo-Malesia to Australia and the Pacific Islands. It has 5 species in India . Only one species has been recorded from kerala .

geodorum Geodorum

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 10 species of terrestrial orchids , geodorum is represented in India by 3 species . Only one species is known to occur in Kerala .

Goodyera

A widespread genus across warmer parts of the world except Africa , Goodyera has about 160 species . India is known to have 20 species . Only one species is known to occur in Kerala .

habenaria Habenaria

A large pantropical genus of about 600-800 species of ground orchids, Habenaria is represented in India by 72 species and one variety . Twenty five species are known from kerala .

hetaeria Hetaeria

An Indo-Malesian genus of some 20 species of ground orchids, Hetaeria is presented in India by 5 species. Only one species is known to occur in Kerala.

ipsea Ipsea

An Indo-Sri Lankan and Thai genus of 3 species of terrestrial orchids , Ipsea is represented in India by a single species found only in Kerala .

kingidium Kingidium

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 12 species of epiphytic orchids, Kingidium is presented in India by five species. Three species are found in Kerala . Christenson (2001) treats this under Phalaenopsis .

liparis Liparis

A cosmopolitan genus of about 250 species of both terrestrial and epiphytic orchids, Liparis is represented in India by 45 species and one subspecies. Ten speceis are found in Kerala .

luisia Luisia

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 40 epiphytic species, Luisia is represented in India by 16 species .Five species are found in Kerala .

nervilia Nervilia

An old world genus of about 100 species of terrestrial orchids, Nervilia is tepresented in India by 16 species. Four species are found in Kerala.

oberonia oberonia

An Old World genus of about 300-350 species of epiphytic orchids, Oberonia is represented by 53 species . Twenty four species are found in Kerala .

Pachystoma

An Indo-Malesian genus of 2-5 species of terrestrial orchids, Pachystoma is represented in India by two species , both found in Kerala.

paphiopedilum Paphiopedilum

AN Indo-Malesian genus of 70 , predominantly terrestrial , rarely epiphytic species , Paphiopedilum is represented in Inida by 9 species . Obly one species has been recorded from Kerala.

papilionanthe Papilionanthe

An Indo-Malesian genus of 12 species of epiphytic orchids, Papilionanthe is represented in India by 5 species . Only one species has so far been recorded from kerala .

pecteilis Pecteilis

An Indo-Malesian genus of 12 species of terrestrial orchids, Pecteilis is represented in India by four speceis . Only one species is found in Kerala .

peristylus Peristylus

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 60-70 species of terrestrial orchids, Peristuls is represented in Inida by 28 species. Seven species are found in Kerala.

phaius Phaius

A palaeotropic genus of about 50 species of mostly terrestrial orchids, Phaius is represented in India by five species . Only one species has been recorded from Kerala .

Pholidota

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 29 species and 7 varieties of epiphytic orchids, Pholidota is represented in Inida by 7 speceis and a single variety . Only one species has been found in Kerala .

Phreatia

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 150 species of epiphytic orchids, Phreatia is represented in India by three species . Only one species has been recorded from Kerala .

Podochilus

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 60 species of epiphytic orchids with characteristic vegetative morphology , Podochilus is represented in India by four species . Only one species has been found in Kerala .

Polystachya

A pantropical genus of about 200 species of epiphytic orchids, Polystachya is represented in India by a solitary species which also occurs in Kerala .

pomatocalpa Pomatocalpa

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 35-40 speceis of epiphytic orchids , Pomatocalpa is represented in India by six species . Only one species occurs in Kerala .

porpax Porpax

An Indo-Malesian genus of 12 species of epiphytic or lithophytic orchids, Porpax is represented in India by 6 species . Two species are found in Kerala .

Pteroceras

An Indo -Malesian genus of 19 species (Pedersen, 1993) of epiphytic orchids, Pteroceras is represented in India by five species . Only one species occurs in Kerala .

rhynchostyllis Rhynchostyllis

An Indo-Malesian genus of 3-4 species of epiphytic orchids, Rhynchostylis is represented in India by a single species (the recently described Rhynchostylis albiflora Barua & Barua (2002 ) is in no way different from Rhynchostylis retusa (L.)Bl. , which is known to exist in alba forms as well.

rhytionantos Rhytionantos

An Indo-Malesian genus of about a dozen species of epiphytic orchids, Rhytionanthos is represented in India by six species . two species occur in Kerala .

robiquetia Robiquetia

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 40 species of epiphytic orchids, Robiquetia is represented in India by four species . T hree species .Three species are found here .

Saccolabiopsis

An Indo-Malesian genus of about dozen species , Saccolabiopsis is represented in India by a single species -Saccolabiopsis pusilla (Lindl. ) Sedienf. & Garay , recorded earlier from Northeast India .

satyirum Satyrium

A predominantly African genus of about 100 species of terrestrial orchids with two species extending to Asia . Only one species is known to occur in India , also recorded from kerala .

Schoenorchis

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 24 species of epiphytic orchids, Schoenorchis is represented in India by six species .Three species are known from Kerala .

Seidenfadeniella

An Indo-Sri Lankan genus of two species of thin, flimsy and pendulous epiphytes , seidenfadeniella has both species represented in India in including Kerala .

Seidenfia

An Indo-Sri Lankan genus of 9 species (one species occurs in seychelles islands) , Seidenfia is represented in India by six species , all of which are available in Kerala .

Sirhookera

An Indo-Sri Lankan genus of two species of epiphytic orchids, both found in Kerala.

smithsonia Smithsonia

A South Indian endemic genus of three species, Smithsonia is superfically Phalaenopsis like but the lip is curiously constructed and pollinia are 4 in two unequal halves . All the three species are found in Kerala .

Spiranthes

A world wide genus of about 42 species of terrestrial orchids , Spiranthes is represented in India bu two species . Only one species occurs in Kerala .

taeniophyllum Taeniophyllum

A palaeotropic genus of 120-150 species of tiny epiphytes without leaves, Taeniophyllum is represented in India by 8 species . Two species are found in Kerala .

Tainia

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 25 species of terrestrial orchids, Tainia is represented in India by five species . Only one species is known to occur in Kerala .

taprobanea Taprobanea

An Indo -Srilankan monotypic genus described by Christenson (1992), Taprobanea is uniquely different from other vandas not only in vegetative morphology but also in floral details . This was first described and illustrated from Kerala by Van Rheede (1693) who called Ponnampou Maravara. Linnaeus gave the binimial Epidendrum spathulatum.

thelasis Thelasis

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 25 species of epiphytic orchids., Thelasis is represented in India by four species . Only one species occurs here.

thrixspermum Thrixspermum

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 165 species of epiphytic orchids, Thrixpermum is represented in India by eight species and a solitary variety . Three species are known from Kerala .

thunia Thunia

An Indo-Malesian genus of about four species of epiphytic or lithophytic orchids, Thunia is represented in India by three species . Only one species is known to occur in Kerala .

trias Trias

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 15 species of epiphytic orchids, Trias is represented in India by six species . Two species are found in Kerala .

trichoglottis Trichoglottis

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 70 species of epiphytic orchids, Trichoglottis is represented by four species . Only one species is found in Kerala .

tropidia Tropidia

A pantropical genus of about 6 species of terrestrial orchids, Tropidia is represented in India by four species . Two species are available in Kerala .

vanda Vanda

An Indo-Malesian genus of about 40 species of epiphytic orchids, Vanda is represented in India by 11 species . Four species are known from kerala .

Vanilla

A tropical genus of about 65 species , Vanilla is represented in India by five species . Two species are found in Kerala .

Xenikphyton

An endemic genus of Southern India with two species , Xenikophyton was described by Garay who found strange admixture of characters of Cleisomeria and Sarcophyton. Both the species are found in Kerala .

Zeuxine

A widespread genus of some 40-50 species of terrestrial orchids, Zeuxine is represented in India by 16 species . Six species are found in Kerala.