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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales

Familia: Orchidaceae
Subfamilia: Orchidoideae
Tribus: Diurideae
Subtribus: Cryptostylidinae
Genus: Cryptostylis
Overview of species (23)

C. acutata – C. apiculata – C. arachnites – C. arfakensis – C. carinata – C. clemensii – C. concava – C. conspicua – C. erecta – C. filiformis – C. gracilis – C. hamadryas – C. hunteriana – C. javanica – C. lancilabris – C. leptochila – C. ligulata – C. maculata – C. ovata – C. sigmoidea – C. sororia – C. subulata – C. taiwaniana

Cryptostylis R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 317 (1810)

Type species: Cryptostylis erecta R.Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 317 (1810)


Chlorosa Blume, Bijdr.: 420 (1825)
Zosterostylis Blume, Bijdr.: 418 (1825)

Native distribution areas:

China Southeast.
Eastern Asia
Indian Subcontinent
Assam, Sri Lanka.
Andaman Islands, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam.
Borneo, Jawa, Malaya, Maluku, Philippines, Sulawesi, Sumatera.
New Guinea, Solomon Islands.
New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia.
New Zealand
New Zealand North.
Southwestern Pacific
Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, Vanuatu.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Brown, R. 1810. Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae 317.
Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.W. & Rasmussen, F.N. (eds.) 2001. Genera Orchidacearum Volume 2: Orchidoideae (Part one); page 118 ff., Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850710-0


'eFloras 2009. Cryptostylis in Flora of China vol. 25 Orchidaceae --> pdf Cryptostylis
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2021. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Cryptostylis. Accessed: 2021 May 22.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Cryptostylis in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 22. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Cryptostylis in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 22. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. Cryptostylis. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 22. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Cryptostylis. Published online. Accessed: 22 May 2021.
Tropicos.org 2021. Cryptostylis. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 May 22.

Vernacular names

فارسی: ارکیده‌های زبان‌دار
перем коми: Криптостилис
коми: Криптостилис
олык марий: Криптостилис
удмурт: Криптостилис
中文: 隐柱兰属

Cryptostylis, commonly known as tongue orchids, is a genus of flowering plants from the orchid family. Tongue orchids are terrestrial herbs with one to a few stalked leaves at the base of the flowering stem, or leafless. One to a few dull coloured flowers are borne on an erect flowering stem. The most conspicuous part of the flower is the labellum, compared to the much reduced sepals and petals. At least some species are pollinated by wasps when they attempt to mate with the flower. There are about twenty five species found in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.


Orchids in the genus Cryptostylis are terrestrial, perennial herbs with a thick, branching underground rhizome with vertical shoots forming at nodes. The plant has thick, fleshy roots but lacks a tuber. There are one to a few erect leaves, each with a distinct petiole and often purple on the lower surface, although C. hunteriana is saprophytic and leafless. New leaves are produced each year after flowering but each leaf has a life of several years.[2][3]

The inflorescence is a raceme with from one to a few non-resupinate flowers. The sepals and petals (apart from the labellum) are narrow, free from and similar to each other. The most conspicuous part of the flower is the labellum which is attached to the base of the column and closely surrounds it. The fruit is a thin-walled capsule containing a large number of light coloured seeds.[2][3]
Taxonomy and naming

Cryptostylis was first formally described in 1810 by the prolific Scottish botanist, Robert Brown and the description was published in his book, Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen. Brown described three species in the same publication (C. longifolia, C. ovata and C. erecta) but did not nominate a type species. (Cryptostylis longifolia is an illegitimate name and the species is now known as C. subulata.)[4][5]

The name Cryptostylis is derived from the Ancient Greek words kryptos meaning "hidden" and stylos meaning "pillar" or "column", referring to the column of these orchids which is partly hidden by the labellum.[2]

Molecular study of the DNA of tongue orchids shows the genus lies within the tribe Diurideae within the orchid family, having previously been considered part of the Cranichideae. The genera Cryptostylis and Coilochilus (endemic to New Caledonia) make up the subtribe Cryptostylidinae.[6]
Distribution and habitat

The genus comprises around twenty five species of terrestrial orchid distributed from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia through, Indonesia to Australia and New Zealand, as well as Samoa, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Five species are found in Australia, of which three are endemic. Tongue orchids occur from temperate to tropical regions and in well-drained to swampy sites. Cryptostylis arachnites has the widest distribution and grows in rainforest, often in mountainous areas.[2][3]


All Australian species are pollinated by the ichneumon wasp known as the orchid dupe wasp (Lissopimpla excelsa). The male wasp mistakes the flower parts for a female wasp and attempts to copulate with it. Although the different species can occur together, they appear to inhibit cross-fertilisation and no hybrids are found in nature.[7] This discovery was made by Australian naturalist Edith Coleman in 1928, and the term coined was "pseudocopulation". The mimicking of flowers to resemble female wasp parts has since been recorded in other orchid genera but only in Cryptostylis has the insect been observed ejecting seminal fluid containing sperm cells. Coleman suggested that the males are more strongly attracted to the orchid flowers than to female wasps of the same species.[2][8][9] The flowers of Cryptostylis orchids and female wasp body parts are very similar in colour when viewed under a hymenopteran visual system, despite looking different to human eyes. Although the colours that ichneumon wasps see are unknown, bees and wasps have similar perception with green, blue and ultraviolet wavelengths.[10]

The Cryptostylis orchids are unusual in that several species are pollinated by the same wasp species; other orchids which mimic insects are often species-specific. The flowers have no smell detectable to humans, but have been shown to have an odour which attracts the orchid dupe wasp. Furthermore, gas chromatography and electrophysiology show that the single active compound for pollinator attraction is found in different species of Cryptostylis.[11]


Species currently accepted as of July 2018:[1]

Cryptostylis acutata J.J.Sm. - Java, Borneo, Sumatra
Cryptostylis apiculata J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis arachnites (Blume) Hassk. in C.L.Blume - Guangdong, Guangxi, Taiwan, Cambodia, Assam,, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Andaman Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, Vanuatu
Cryptostylis arfakensis J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis carinata J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis clemensii (Ames & C.Schweinf.) J.J.Sm. - Sabah
Cryptostylis concava Schltr. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis conspicua J.J.Sm. - Thailand, Malaysia, Java, Sumatra
Cryptostylis erecta R.Br. - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria
Cryptostylis filiformis Blume - Java
Cryptostylis gracilis Schltr. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis hamadryas Schltr. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis hunteriana Nicholls - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria
Cryptostylis javanica J.J.Sm. - Java
Cryptostylis lancilabris Schltr. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis leptochila F.Muell. ex Benth. - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania
Cryptostylis ligulata J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis maculata (J.J.Sm.) J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis ovata R.Br. - Western Australia
Cryptostylis sigmoidea J.J.Sm. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis sororia Schltr. - New Guinea
Cryptostylis subulata (Labill.) Rchb.f. - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New Zealand North Island
Cryptostylis taiwaniana Masam. - Taiwan, Philippine

See also

List of Orchidaceae genera


"Cryptostylis". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Pridgeon, Alec M.; Cribb, P.J.; Chase, M.A.; Rasmussen, F., eds. (2001). Genera Orchidacearum 2. Oxford University Press. pp. 118–25. ISBN 0-19-850710-0. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
Weston, Peter H. "Genus Cryptostylis". Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
"Cryptostylis". APNI. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
Brown, Robert (1810). Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen. London. p. 317. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
Kores PJ, Molvray M, Weston PH, Hopper SD, Brown AP, Cameron KM, Chase MW (2001). "A phylogenetic analysis of Diurideae (Orchidaceae) based on plastid DNA sequence data". American Journal of Botany. 88 (10): 1903–14. doi:10.2307/3558366. JSTOR 3558366. PMID 21669623.
Robert L. Dressler (1993). Phylogeny and classification of the orchid family. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-521-45058-6. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
Peakall, Rod. "Pollination by Sexual Deception in Australian Terrestrial Orchids". Australian National University. Archived from the original on 13 September 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
Ledford, Heidi (2007). "The flower of seduction". Nature. 445 (7130): 816–817. doi:10.1038/445816a. PMID 17314951. S2CID 833763. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
A. C. Gaskett; M. E. Herberstein (2010). "Colour mimicry and sexual deception by Tongue orchids (Cryptostylis)". Naturwissenschaften. 97 (1): 97–102. doi:10.1007/s00114-009-0611-0. PMID 19798479. S2CID 1729573.
Schiestl, Florian P; Peakall, Rod; Mant, Jim (2004). "Chemical communication in the sexually deceptive orchid genus Cryptostylis". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 144 (2): 199–205. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2003.00249.x.

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