Fl. Javae (1828) vi
Small sympodial terrestrial, rarely epiphytic plants. Stem elongated, slightly succulent, basal part creeping, forming a rhizome, apical part erect, few-leaved. Leaves crowded at the stem-apex, spirally arranged, sheathing at the base, glabrous, persistent, convolute, usually very dark green or brown with silvery, golden, or pink veins and cross-veins; in one group of species (sometimes separated into the genus Odontochilus) the leaves are plain green, herbaceous. Inflorescence a usually few-flowered, terminal raceme. Flowers small, resupinate, usually brownish with a white lip. Sepals free. Petals free, about as long as the dorsal sepal, usually cohering at the apices. Lip spurred or sac-shaped at the base, not mobile, in the middle with an elongated constriction which carries slender processes along its margin, but in peloric forms lip similar to the petals. Column in front with 2 parallel lamellae; column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, sectile, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present. Stigma with 2 clearly separated lobes.
Tropical continental Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Pacific islands, east to Hawaii. About 40 species; in New Guinea at least 2 species.
Terrestrial in undisturbed lowland and montane forest, sometimes epiphytic on mossy tree-trunks.
One of the so-called 'Jewel Orchids', cultivated for their beautiful foliage. The most frequent species in New Guinea, Anoectochilus papuanus (Schltr.) W. Kittr., is unusual as the lip is simple and similar to the petals. This is unlike most other species of Anoectochilus, where on the contrary the lip is highly complex, with long fringes on the sides. The probable explanation for this anomaly is that A. papuanus is a stabilised peloric form. In other respects, e.g. in the shape of the column, it is a typical species of Anoectochilus, and it has nothing to do with Eucosia (= Goodyera), in which Schlechter placed it. A second species of Anoectochilus with 'normal' flowers has also been found in New Guinea on very few occasions.