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Classification System: APG IV

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

Familia: Orchidaceae
Subfamilia: Epidendroideae
Tribus: Epidendreae
Subtribus: Laeliinae
Genus: Myrmecophila
Overview of species (9)

M. brysiana – M. christinae – M. exaltata – M. galeottiana – M. grandiflora – M. humboldtii – M. thomsoniana – M. tibicinis – M. wendlandii
Nothospecies: (3)

M. × laguna-guerrerae – M. × parkinsoniana – M. × rechingeriana

Myrmecophila Rolfe, Orchid Rev. 25: 50 (1917)

Type species: Myrmecophila tibicinis (Bateman ex Lindl.) Rolfe, Orchid Rev. 25: 51 (1917)

Native distribution areas:

Northern America
Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest.
Southern America
Aruba, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles.
Central America
Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras.
Northern South America

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

Pridgeon, A.M., Cribb, P.J., Chase, M.W. & Rasmussen, F.N. (eds.) 2006. Genera Orchidacearum Volume 4 Epidendroideae (Part one); page 282 ff., Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850712-7. Reference page.
Rolfe, R.A. 1917. Orchid Review 25 (291): 50–51.


Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2021. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Myrmecophila. Accessed: 2021 Aug 19.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Myrmecophila in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Aug 19. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Myrmecophila in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Aug 19. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. Myrmecophila. 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 Aug 19. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Myrmecophila. Published online. Accessed: 19 Aug 2021. 2021. Myrmecophila. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Aug 19.

Vernacular names

перем коми: Мирмекофила
коми: Мирмекофила
кырык мары: Мирмекофила
удмурт: Мирмекофила

Myrmecophila is a genus of plants belonging to the family Orchidaceae. It is native to southern Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and Venezuela.[3]

Species in this genus are either epiphytic or lithophytic in their growth habit. Their slightly scented flowers are produced on pole-like growths that extend upwards from 1 to 4 meters high and take up to 4 months to develop. Several of the Schomburgkia species were transferred into the genus Myrmecophila by Robert Allen Rolfe in 1917.[1][2]

The name Myrmecophila is a derivative of the word myrmecophile and refers to the symbiotic relationship with colonies of ants that are usually found living in the large, hollowed-out, banana-like pseudobulbs. An opening in the base of each pseudobulb serves as an entrance for the ants which harvest nectar from the peduncles and flowers and forage on other plants in the community. The ants associated with Myrmecophila tibicinis pack many of the pseudobulbs with debris that includes other dead ants, a variety of insects, pieces of plant material, seeds and sand. Myrmecophila tibicinis directly utilizes minerals of the organic debris ("garbage dumps") deposited by the ants inside the hollow pseudobulbs. Since the open-canopied trees of the tropics can often be nutrient poor habitats, a small input of nutrients from insects can have a significant effect on plant survival and growth rates. Myrmecophila tibicinis can grow quite well in the absence of ants, though it is quite rare to find an uninhabited plant. The species of ant responsible for forming colonies in Myrmecophila tibicinis are as follows: Brachymyrmex, Camponotus planatus, Camponotus abdominalis, Camponotus rectangularis, and Crematogaster brevispinosa, Monomorium ebenium, Paratrechina longicornis, Zacryptocerus maculatus, and Ectatomma tuberculatum.


Species accepted as of June 2014:[3]

Image Name Distribution Elevation (m)
Banana orchid botanical gardens.jpg Myrmecophila albopurpurea (H.Strachan ex Fawc.) Nir Grand Cayman Island
Myrmecophila Brysiana.jpg Myrmecophila brysiana (Lem.) G.C.Kenn. Yucatán, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica 0 - 200
Myrmecophila christinae.jpg Myrmecophila christinae Carnevali & Gómez-Juárez Yucatán, Belize
Myrmecophila exaltata (Kraenzl.) G.C. Kenn. Chiapas, Guatemala
Myrmecophila galeottiana (A.Rich.) Rolfe Chiapas 25 - 550
Myrmecophila grandiflora (Lindl.) Carnevali & J.L.Tapia & I.Ramírez southern Mexico
Myrmecophila humboldtii (Rchb.f) Rolfe Central America - Venezuela, Netherlands Antilles
Myrmecophila thomsoniana (Rchb.f) Rolfe Cayman Islands
Schomburgkia tibicinis1 - cropped.jpg Myrmecophila tibicinis (Rchb.f) Rolfe Mexico, Central America, Venezuela 300 - 600
Myrmecophila wendlandii (Rchb.f.) G.C.Kenn. Belize, Guatemala, Honduras 360 - 1100

Natural hybrid

M. × laguna-guerrerae Carnevali, L.Ibarra & J.L.Tapia

See also

Schomburgkia - a very close genus


Govaerts, R.; et al. (2018). "Plants of the world online: Myrmecophila". Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
Rolfe,R.A. 1917. Orchid Review 25: 50

Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families

Botanical Society of America
Orchid Species Culture
The World Checklist of Monocotyledons

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