Nova Acta Regiae Soc. Sci. Upsal. 6 (1799) 70
Sympodial epiphytic or terrestrial plants with pseudobulbs, almost without or with short rhizomes, rarely (not in New Guinea) leafless terrestrial plants without pseudobulbs and with underground rhizomes. Pseudobulbs often hidden by the leaf-sheaths, consisting of one or more internodes, few- to several-leaved. Leaves sheathing at the base, arranged in two rows, glabrous, deciduous, duplicate, leathery. Inflorescence arising laterally from the base of the pseudobulb, a few- to many-flowered raceme. Flowers medium-sized to large, resupinate, often showy. Sepals free. Petals free, more or less similar to rather different from the dorsal sepal. Lip without spur, not mobile. Column-foot present. Pollinia 2, cleft, solid, caudicles absent, stipe present, viscidium present (forming a single structure with the stipe).
India, tropical East Asia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia. About 45 species; in New Guinea 2 species.
Epiphytic in lowland and montane forest, or terrestrial in montane forest.
Horticulturally, Cymbidium is one of the most important orchid genera, with numerous hybrids being cultivated for the cut flower industry. The two New Guinea species are widespread and not among the most attractive members of the genus; they both occur at the edge of their area of distribution. Cymbidium ensifolium is noteworthy for having finely serrated leaf-edges, which is very uncommon in orchids.