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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Nivenioideae
Genus: Geosiris
Type species
Geosiris aphylla

Geosiris is a genus in the Iridaceae family of flowering plants, first described as a genus in 1894. It was thought for many years to contain only one species, Geosiris aphylla, endemic to Madagascar. But then in 2010, a second species was described, Geosiris albiflora, from Mayotte Island in the Indian Ocean northwest of Madagascar.[1][2]

Geosiris aphylla is sometimes called the "earth-iris." It is a small myco-heterotroph lacking chlorophyll and obtaining its nutrients from fungi in the soil. The genus name is derived from the Greek words geos, meaning "earth", and iris, referring to the Iris family of plants.[3]

Its rhizomes are slender and scaly, and stems are simple or branched. The leaves are alternate, but having no use, are reduced and scale-like. The flowers are light purple.

In 1939, F. P. Jonker[4] assigned Geosiris to its own family Geosiridaceae in Orchidales, and this was adopted in the Cronquist system,[5] with a note that the family was closely related to Iridaceae or Burmanniaceae. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group has since subsumed the family into Iridaceae, it is within the Nivenioideae subfamily.[6]


  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Goldblatt & J.C.Manning, Bothalia 40: 170 (2010).
  3. ^ Manning, John; Goldblatt, Peter (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History & Classification. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. pp. 96–98. ISBN 0-88192-897-6. 
  4. ^ F. P. Jonker, 1939, "Les Géosiridacées, une nouvelle famille de Madagascar" Recueil Trav. Bot. Néerl. 36:473-179
  5. ^ Arthur Cronquist, An Integrated Systems of Classification of Flowering Plants (Columbia University Press, 1981) p.1236
  6. ^ Reeves, G; Chase, MW; Goldblatt, P; Rudall, P; Fay, MF; Cox, AV; Lejeune, B; Souza-Chies, T (November 2001). "Molecular systematics of Iridaceae: evidence from four plastid DNA regions". American Journal of Botany (Am J Bot.). 88 (88): 2074–87. PMID 21669639. 

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