Kongl. Vetensk. Acad. Handl. 21 (1800) 218
Small terrestrial plants with subterranean tubers. Stem one- or two-leaved. Leaves not sheathing at the base, almost opposite, glabrous, persistent, convolute, herbaceous. Inflorescence terminal, a few-flowered raceme or carrying a single flower. Flowers small, resupinate. Sepals free, the lateral sepals spurred. Petals free, quite different from the sepals. Lip without spur, the basal part adnate to the column. Column-foot absent. Pollinia 2, sectile, caudicles present, stipe absent, viscidium present.
Tropical and Southern Africa, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Sri Lanka, tropical continental Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Caroline Islands. About 75 species; in New Guinea one, endemic, species [Disperis rhodoneura Schltr.].
Terrestrial in montane forest.
A highly characteristic genus of very delicate terrestrial plants, unique because of the spurred lateral sepals and the highly complex structure formed by the lip and the column. The Asian species of Disperis appear to be quite rare in nature, and are as yet unknown in cultivation. In spite of its name Disperis papuana Michol. & Kraenzl. was not collected in New Guinea but in the Lesser Sunda Islands and is therefore not described here.