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66. Nervilia Commerson ex Gaudichaud, Voy. Uranie, Bot. 421. 1829.

芋兰属 yu lan shu

Authors: Xinqi Chen & Stephan W. Gale

Aplostellis Thouars; Bolborchis Zollinger & Moritzi; Cordyla Blume (1825), not Loureiro (1790); Roptrostemon Blume; Stellorkis Thouars.

Herbs, terrestrial. Tubers globose or ovoid, cormlike, fleshy, few to several noded, with a few short roots at nodes or rootless. Stem arising from apex of tuber and giving rise to an inflorescence and a leaf in succession, bearing 1 to several lateral, subterranean runners during leafing period. Runners producing new tubers at apex. Leaf solitary, usually emerging after anthesis, usually horizontal, cordate, orbicular, reniform, or elliptic, palmately veined, often plicate, membranous or fleshy, glabrous or pubescent, base cordate, apex acute, obtuse, or rounded, borne on an elongate, erect or prostrate petiole-like stalk. Inflorescence erect, terminal, slender or slightly stout, usually slightly fleshy, glabrous; peduncle with 1 to several tubular sheaths, elongating in fruit in 1-flowered species; rachis 1-, 2-, or several flowered; floral bracts usually small, lanceolate. Flowers erect or nodding, resupinate or not, medium-sized, opening widely or not; pedicel becoming erect and elongating in fruit in 1-flowered species. Sepals and petals similar, narrowly ovate or elliptic; lip 3-lobed or occasionally simple, base spurless or spurred, apex entire or fimbriate. Column elongate, clavate, slender, not winged; anther terminal, incumbent, usually ovoid, 2-locular; pollinia 2, cleft, granular-farinaceous, sectile; caudicle absent; viscidium reduced or prominent; rostellum broad, entire, sometimes absent; stigmatic surface shield-shaped to orbicular, lying below rostellum.

About 65 species: tropical and subtropical Africa, Madagascar, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula, across India, Nepal, and Bhutan to Japan, SE Asia, New Guinea, N Australia, and the SW Pacific islands; nine species (three endemic) in China; one additional species (endemic) is incompletely known.

This is a taxonomically problematic genus that remains poorly understood, primarily because the solitary inflorescence and solitary leaf usually emerge and are present aboveground at different times in the growing season, frequently leading to incomplete herbarium collections and species circumscriptions. Some of the widespread taxa may represent species complexes and are in need of critical re-examination.

Incompletely known species

Nervilia taitoensis (Hayata) Schlechter, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 10: 6. 1911.

台东芋兰 tai dong yu lan

Pogonia taitoensis Hayata, J. Coll. Sci. Imp. Univ. Tokyo 30(1): 346. 1911.

Tuber subglobose, 6-8 mm in diam. Leaf not known. Inflorescence ca. 11 cm, 2-flowered; peduncle with 2 tubular sheaths; floral bracts linear, ca. 10 × 1 mm. Flowers resupinate; pedicel and ovary ca. 5 mm. Sepals narrowly linear-elliptic, 15-20 × 1-2 mm, apex acuminate. Petals narrowly linear-elliptic, 15-19 × 1.2-1.5 mm, apex acuminate; lip purple, obovate, ca. 18 × 6-10 mm, base cuneate, spurless, 3-lobed above middle, apex acute; lateral lobes small, apices truncate; mid-lobe ovate, margin slightly undulate; disk hirsute. Column ca. 7 mm.

● S Taiwan.

Nervilia taitoensis is known only from the type collection, which consists of a single inflorescence.

1 Flowers erect, not resupinate; lip apex lacerate or fimbriate; adaxial surface of leaf sparsely setulose throughout   (2)
+ Flowers nodding, resupinate; lip apex not divided; leaf glabrous or pubescent primarily on main veins   (3)
2 (1) Inflorescence 1-flowered; leaf with 7 main veins; adaxial surface of leaf green with fine white reticulate venation.   5 N. crociformis
+ Inflorescence 2- or 3-flowered; leaf with 10 or more main veins; adaxial surface of leaf uniformly light green.   6 N. cumberlegei
3 (1) Inflorescence 2-15-flowered; lip brownish tinged yellow or purple, or pale green, white, pinkish white, or pale green with purplish venation; leaf orbicular-cordate or cordate-ovate   (4)
+ Inflorescence 1-flowered; lip white, with purple, purplish magenta, or pinkish purple flecks, spots, or blotches; leaf usually 5-7-sided   (6)
4 (3) Inflorescence 2-flowered; lip obscurely 3-lobed, longitudinally folded at apex, brownish tinged yellow or purple; leaf pubescent on main veins.   7 N. plicata
+ Inflorescence 3-15-flowered; lip distinctly 3-lobed, not folded at apex, pale green, white, pinkish white, or pale green with purplish venation; leaf glabrous   (5)
5 (4) Inflorescence 3-5-flowered; lip densely villous, especially toward apex; leaf ca. 5 × 6 cm.   8 N. fordii
+ Inflorescence 4-15-flowered; lip villous primarily on veins; leaf 9-15 × 10-18 cm.   9 N. aragoana
6 (3) Sepals white; dorsal sepal ca. 28 mm; lip ca. 25 mm; lateral lobes of lip not prominent, apices rounded.   4 N. muratana
+ Sepals brown, greenish brown, or greenish beige; dorsal sepal 14-22 mm; lip 12-20 mm; lateral lobes of lip triangular, apices acute   (7)
7 (6) Mid-lobe of lip ca. 2.5 mm wide; disk with 3 thickened central veins; leaf margin cornutely toothed at tips of main veins.   3 N. mackinnonii
+ Mid-lobe of lip 4-6 mm wide; disk with a single longitudinal ridge; leaf margin not usually cornutely toothed   (8)
8 (7) Mid-lobe of lip 6-8 mm, apex rounded or obtuse; leaf membranous, margin crisped, adaxially uniformly green.   1 N. lanyuensis
+ Mid-lobe of lip 8-10 mm, apex acute; leaf slightly fleshy, margin not crisped, adaxially green with irregular silvery-white mottling.   2 N. taiwaniana

Lower Taxa


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