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Christmas orchids
Calanthe sylvatica Calanthe masuka OrchidsBln0906b.JPG
Calanthe sylvatica in the Botanical Gardens Berlin - Orchid Exhibition
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Collabieae
Genus: Calanthe
about 220 species
  • Alismorkis Thouars
  • Amblyglottis Blume
  • Aulostylis Schltr.
  • Calanthidum Pfitzer
  • Centrosia A.Rich.
  • Centrosis Thouars
  • Ghiesbreghtia A.Rich. & Galeotti
  • Limatodes Blume
  • Paracalanthe Kudô
  • Preptanthe Rchb.f.
  • Styloglossum Breda
  • Zeduba Ham. ex Meisn
  • Zoduba Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don

Calanthe, commonly known as Christmas orchids,[2] is a genus of about 220 species of orchids in the family Orchidaceae. They are evergreen or deciduous terrestrial plants with thick roots, small oval pseudobulbs, large corrugated leaves and upright, sometimes arching flowering stems. The sepals and petals are narrow and a similar size to each other and the labellum usually has spreading lobes.


Orchids in the genus Calanthe are terrestrial with small, crowded pseudobulbs with thick roots and a few corrugated or wrinkled leaves with the base tapering to a petiole-like stalk. Some species are evergreen while others are deciduous. The flowers are delicate but showy, white, pink, yellow or orange and crowded near the end of an erect, sometimes arching flowering stem. The sepals and petals are relatively narrow, similar in size and spread widely. The labellum has three or four spreading lobes and in most species there is a spur at the base. Unlike similar orchids, the labellum of Calanthe orchids is fused to the column.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

The genus Calanthe was first formally described in 1821 by Robert Brown and his manuscript was published in The Botanical Register.[1][8] The name Calanthe is derived from the Ancient Greek words kallos meaning "beauty"[9]:131 and anthos meaning "flower".[9]:94

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Calanthe species are found in all tropical areas, but mostly concentrated in Southeast Asia. Some species also range into subtropical and tropical lands such as China, India, Madagascar, Australia, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.[1]

List of species[edit]

The following is a list of species of Calanthe recognised by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families as at August 2018:[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e "Calanthe". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ a b Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. p. 353. ISBN 1877069124.
  3. ^ La Croix, Isobyl F. (2008). The new encyclopedia of orchids : 1500 species in cultivation. Timber Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780881928761.
  4. ^ Sasaki, Sanmi (2005). Chado the Way of Tea: A Japanese Tea Master's Almanac. Translated by Shaun McCabe; Iwasaki Satoko. Tuttle. pp. 195–196. ISBN 978-0-8048-3716-3.
  5. ^ Soon, Teoh Eng (2005). Orchids of Asia (3rdition ed.). Times Editions- Marshall Cavendish. p. 146. ISBN 9812610154.
  6. ^ "Calanthe". Trin keys. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  7. ^ Chen, Xinqi; Cribb, Phillip J.; Gale, Stephan W. "Calanthe". Flora of China. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  8. ^ Ridgway, James (1821). The Botanical Register (Volume 7). London: Ridgways. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  10. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 382. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Calanthe at Wikimedia Commons