Genus Cheirostylis

Cheirostylis Blume,
Bijdr. (1825) 413

Sympodial epiphytic or terrestrial plants. Stem elongated, basal part creeping, often very succulent and swollen, forming a rhizome, apical part erect, usually rather short. Leaves few, distributed along the stem or crowded at its apex, sheathing at the base, glabrous, persistent, convolute, herbaceous. Inflorescence terminal, a few-flowered raceme. Ovary obovate, distinctly stalked. Flowers small, resupinate, usually with a white lip. All three sepals connate at the base for 1/2 to 2/3 of their length. Petals free, about as long as the dorsal sepal, usually cohering at the apices. Lip without spur, not mobile, in the saccate basal part on either side with a few slender papillae, usually fan-like dilated and bilobed in front, often with coarse teeth along the margin. Column with two thin, narrow appendages near the apex. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, sectile, caudicles present, stipe present, viscidium present. Stigma with 2 clearly separated lobes.

Tropical Africa, Madagascar, tropical continental Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Pacific islands, east to New Caledonia. About 15 species; in New Guinea 2 species.

Terrestrial in lowland and montane forest, also on rocks, and epiphytic on tree trunks and major branches.

A genus of inconspicuous but interesting plants allied to Zeuxine, Myrmechis, etc., recognised by the tubular connate sepals and the pair of appendages at the apex of the column. Most species have a strongly swollen rhizome. The often epiphytic habit is unusual in this alliance.