Genus Ophioglossella

Ophioglossella Schuit. & Ormerod,
Kew Bull. 53 (1998) 742

Monopodial epiphytic plants. Stem somewhat elongated. Leaves 3-5, sheathing at the base, spreading in one plane, glabrous, dorso-ventrally flattened, articulate, duplicate, thin-leathery. Inflorescence lateral, a raceme, rachis not swollen. Flowers rather small, resupinate, purplish with yellow markings on the lip. Sepals free. Petals free, somewhat smaller than the sepals. Lip mobile, without spur, midlobe connected with the lateral lobes by two longitudinal crests. Column-foot present, much shorter than the column proper. Pollinia 4, subequal, in two masses, solid-waxy, caudicles absent, stipe present, viscidium present. Ovary glabrous

New Guinea, endemic. One species [Ophioglossella chrysostoma Schuit. & Ormerod].

Epiphyte in montane forest.

This recently described genus is probably a near relative of Sarcochilus and Dryadorchis. It differs from Sarcochilus in the peculiar structure of the lip, the slender column with a relatively short foot, and the long bifid rostellum, which resembles a snake's tongue. From Dryadorchis it differs in the not swollen rachis of the inflorescence and in the structure of the lip, of which the mid-lobe is not swollen. Ophioglossella is one of several monotypic monopodial genera that may just represent highly deviating representatives of other, larger genera. At present, in the absence of molecular evidence, we can only state that it doesn't 'fit' in any of the currently recognised genera.

Because of its small but colourful flowers Ophioglossella would be worth growing, but as far as we know it has not yet been introduced into cultivation.