Prodr. (1810) 330
Leafless sympodial terrestrial plants lacking chlorophyll, with tuber-like or coral-like rhizomes. Inflorescence a many-flowered raceme (in tropical Asia; elsewhere also one- to few-flowered). Flowers small, resupinate or not, yellowish or whitish, ephemeral. Sepals free. Petals free, similar to the sepals. Lip spurred [abnormal unspurred forms appear to be fairly frequent locally], not mobile. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, granular, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present. Ovary strongly swollen at anthesis, distinctly stalked.
Tropical Africa, Europe, continental Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, east to Fiji. Two or three species; in New Guinea one, non-endemic, species [Epipogium roseum (D. Don) Lindl.].
Terrestrial in lower montane forest.
Epipogium roseum, the only species occurring in New Guinea, can be compared to a mushroom, as it appears and disappears very quickly. The inflorescence is known to grow, flower, set fruit, and die within a week. Like all leafless terrestrials, which are often wrongly called 'saprophytes', they are almost impossible to grow as they are dependent on the presence of a certain fungus in the soil.