Genus Nervilia

Nervilia Comm. ex Gaudich.,
in Freyc., Voy.Uranie, Bot. (1826) 422

Terrestrial plants with subterranean tuberous rhizome. Shoot 1-leaved. Leaves more or less round or heart-shaped, hairy or glabrous, plicate, not articulated, convolute, sometimes spotted, usually absent during the flowering period, thin-textured. Inflorescence a 2- to many-flowered raceme or carrying a single flower, usually produced in the rainy season before the leaves appear. Flowers small to medium-sized, resupinate. Sepals and petals free, similar to each other. Lip without spur, not mobile. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, sectile, caudicles absent, stipe absent, viscidium absent.

Tropical Africa, Sri Lanka, tropical continental Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Pacific islands, east to Tahiti. About 65 species; in New Guinea c. 12 species (see under Notes below).

Terrestrial on open slopes, in forests, in grasslands on poor soils, etc., generally below 1000 m but sometimes up to 1500 m above sea level.

Nervilia is an easily recognised genus of terrestrial orchids with round, kidney-shaped, or heart-shaped, strongly plicate leaves, which usually appear after the flowering period. Nervilia is rarely cultivated, although both the leaves and the flowers are rather attractive.

Once again, Schlechter (1911) proposed a sectional classification, which is at least of some value for identification purposes:

1a. Inflorescence 1-flowered, much elongating in the fruiting stage ... sect. Linervia
1b. Inflorescence at least 2-flowered, not elongating in the fruiting stage ... 2

2a. Inflorescence 2- or 3-flowered, with very short rachis ... sect. Vinerlia
2b. Inflorescence 3- to many-flowered, with elongated rachis ... sect. Nervilia

A tentative key to the species of Nervilia, modified and updated from Schlechter's (1911), is here included in the Text Key module (click on the Text Key icon in the Navigator window, click on Find at the bottom of the text Key window and type Nervilia).

Apart from the 10 species described here there are at least two more species of Nervilia in New Guinea. One of these is represented by a sterile collection (Carr 10011, from PNG, Kanosia), which may be Nervilia holochila (F.Muell.) Schltr. This Australian species is distinguished by its glabrous, ovate leaves. The second is here illustrated by a fine drawing by Neville Howcroft (Howcroft 14) from Bumbu, PNG. This species is related to Nervilia punctata (Blume) Makino, but differs in its rounded lateral lobes and different, largely glabrous keels on the lip. It may be an undescribed species and is also recorded from the vicinity of Jayapura in Indonesian Papua.

Species included on this CD-ROM:
Nervilia acuminata
Nervilia apiculata
Nervilia aragoana
Nervilia campestris
Nervilia crociformis
Nervilia imperatetorum
Nervilia macrophylla
Nervilia pallidiflora
Nervilia plicata
Nervilia punctata