Description from Flora of China
Distomaea Spenner; Listera R. Brown (1813, nom. cons.), not Adanson (1763); Neottidium Schlechtendal; Nidus Rivinus; Pollinirhiza Dulac.
Herbs, small, terrestrial, autotrophic or holomycotrophic. Rhizome short, with many densely crowded, tufted, fibrous or fleshy, sometimes coralloid roots. Stem erect, with several sheathing bracts at base, green, buff, or reddish brown, with or without green leaves. Leaves (when present) 2 [very rarely 3 or 4 in Neottia ovata (Linnaeus) Bluff & Fingerhuth], opposite or subopposite, usually borne midway along stem, sessile or subsessile, green, sometimes with white venation, ovate, deltoid-ovate, ovate-cordate, or cordate, base shallowly cordate, truncate, or broadly cuneate. Inflorescence terminal, racemose and many flowered or rarely reduced to a solitary flower; peduncle glabrous or pubescent; floral bracts persistent, usually shorter than ovary, membranous. Flowers small, resupinate or very rarely not resupinate, membranous or fleshy, green, purple, yellowish brown, or reddish; pedicel slender; ovary ellipsoid. Sepals free, similar, spreading. Petals often narrower and shorter than sepals; lip usually much larger than sepals and petals, sometimes with a pair of auricles at base, without a spur but sometimes shallowly concave at base, apex deeply 2-lobed or emarginate, or rarely unlobed; disk sometimes with a glandular pubescent longitudinal strip or a shallow glossy depression. Column suberect, straight or slightly arcuate, long or short, without a foot; anther inserted at rear margin of clinandrium, erect or slightly nodding; filament extremely short and inconspicuous; pollinia 2, each ± longitudinally 2-parted, granular-farinaceous, without caudicles; stigma subterminal, concave or protruding; rostellum spreading horizontally or suberect, ligulate or ovate, large. Capsule small.
Neottia tenuis (Lindley) Szlachetko (Fragm. Florist. Geobot., Suppl. 3: 119. 1995; Listera tenuis Lindley, J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 1: 176. 1857) has been noted from Xizang (Press et al., Annot. Checkl. Fl. Pl. Nepal, 220. 2000). However, the present authors found no relevant specimens and therefore could not substantiate the occurrence of this species in China.
About 70 species: E and N Asia, Europe, and North America, with a few species extending into tropical Asia; 35 species (23 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Chen Xinqi (陈心启 Chen Sing-chi); Stephan W. Gale, Phillip J. Cribb)