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Comprehensive Description

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The genus Anoectochilus consists of approximately 30 species of small terrestrial herbs ranging (collectively) from the Himalayan foothills in India to mountains of Southeast Asia, Japan, Indonesia, and some of the Pacific Islands, including Taiwan.

Anoectochilus are shade-loving plants growing in leaf litter and humus or on mossy rocks. They are often referred to as "jewel orchids" due to the remarkable coloration of their leaves. While some Anoectochilus have green leaves, most have velvety maroon-green or blackish-green leaves with glistening metallic veins of copper, silver, or gold.

The name Anoectochilus comes from the Greek "aniktos" = "open" and "cheilos" = "lip" or "labellum", a reference to the open aspect of the flowers. The flowers, though small, are large in proportion to the size of the plants and bear some interesting features, particularly related to the labellum, which is clawed and has nodules or projections off both lateral sides so that it resembles a filleted fish.

The leaves of some species of Anoectochilus have been used in China to make a tea believed to be helpful in curing problems associated with the liver and lungs.

Researchers at the School of Medical Technology, Medical School Yang-Ming, in Taiwan, have investigated the use of Anoectochilus formosanus as an anti-inflammatory agent, an anti-depression agent, and even for use against the virus influenza A.

Jewel orchids grow best in warm, humid, and shady conditions with gentle air movement and can be grown in well-draining moisture-retaining media such as sphagnum moss or fine fir bark loamy compost (or mixtures of the two).

As an explanation for the color patterns in the foliage, a charming legend is told in Indonesia of a goddess veiled in diaphanous silks who visited a poor impoverished village in the hopes of giving the people there a greater appreciation for finer things. But the people were afraid of this stranger and drove her off. Some distance away, while recovering from her ordeal with the natives, she removed one of her glistening veils and laid it on the rocks to dry. The people then realized, too late, her divinity. As she turned to leave them, her veil shredded as she retrieved it from the rocks...and these rocks became the plants we now know as jewel orchids.

Anoectochilus setaceus is one of the more commonly cultivated species from southern China and tropical Asia. Its classification is still somewhat confused as it has been synonymized with several other species with very distinct floral and vegetative characteristics.

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Anoectochilus

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Anoectochilus, commonly known as marbled jewel orchids[3] or filigree orchids,[4] is a genus of about fifty species in the orchid family Orchidaceae. They are terrestrial herbs with a creeping rhizome, an upright flowering stem and dark coloured leaves with contrasting veins. The flowers are relatively large and have a large labellum, markedly different from the sepals and petals.

Description

Orchids in the genus Anoectochilus are terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, sympodial herbs with a creeping, above-ground rhizome with wiry roots that look woolly. The leaves are arranged in a rosette and are relatively broad and thin. They are dark green or brownish purple and have a contrasting network of silvery or reddish veins. The flowers are relatively large, hairy, velvety, resupinate and arranged in a short spike. The dorsal sepal and petals overlap to form a hood over the column with the lateral sepals spreading apart from each other. The labellum is relatively large with two sections - an upper "epichile" and lower "hypochile" separated by a narrow section. The hypochile has a cylinder-shaped spur containing two large glands and is joined to the epichile with a "claw" that has spreading teeth or a long fringe. The fruit is a hairy capsule containing a large number of winged seeds.[3][4][5][6]

Taxonomy and naming

The genus Anoectochilus was first formally described in 1825 by Carl Ludwig Blume and Anoectochilus setaceus was the first species he described, hence it is the type species.[7] The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek words anoiktos (ἀνοικτός) meaning "opened" and cheilos (χεῖλος) meaning "lip".[8]

Distribution

Orchids in this genus range from the Himalayas to south China, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia and Hawaii,[9] found in moist areas with deep shade.[3][4]

List of species

The following is a list of species recognised by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as at May 2018:[2]

References

  1. ^ Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892) del. Swan sc. William Jackson Hooker (1785—1865) ed. - "Curtis's botanical magazine" vol. 70 tab. 4123
  2. ^ a b "Anoectochilus". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. ^ a b c Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. p. 346. ISBN 1877069124.
  4. ^ a b c "Anoectochilus". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Anoectochilus". Flora of China. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Genus: Anoectochilus". North American Orchid Conservation Center. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Anoectochilus setaceus". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  8. ^ Backer, C.A. (1936). Verklarend woordenboek der wetenschappelijke namen van de in Nederland en Nederlandsch-Indië in het wild groeiende en in tuinen en parken gekweekte varens en hoogere planten (Edition Nicoline van der Sijs).
  9. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  10. ^ "New plant and animal species found in Vietnam" Archived October 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine CNN. September 27, 2007.
  • Ormerod Paul (2005). "Notulae Goodyerinae (II)". Taiwania. 50 (1): 1–10.

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Anoectochilus: Brief Summary

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Anoectochilus, commonly known as marbled jewel orchids or filigree orchids, is a genus of about fifty species in the orchid family Orchidaceae. They are terrestrial herbs with a creeping rhizome, an upright flowering stem and dark coloured leaves with contrasting veins. The flowers are relatively large and have a large labellum, markedly different from the sepals and petals.

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