Habenaria

Habenaria is a large genus of more than 800 species in the Orchidaceae family distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Plants are variable. Some have two flat leaves and others many leaves along the stem. Flowers are normally green, yellow, and/or white. Species in this genus are sometimes referred to as Ghost Orchids because of their light color. The median sepal is joined with the upper lobes of petals forming a hood. The distinguishing feature of this genus is the receptive surface of the stigmas produced on two projecting club-shaped organs.


Habenaria laevigata Lindl. is a tuberous orchid found on stony grassland from 700 to 2000 m. in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It grows to 40 cm. and has leaves that clasp the stem and green scented flowers in a dense inflorescence. It blooms late spring into summer. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster, Bob Rutemoeller, and Mary Sue Ittner January 2010 at Maclear and Naude's Nek.

Habenaria laevigata, Maclear, Cameron McMasterHabenaria laevigata, Maclear, Bob RutemoellerHabenaria laevigata, Maclear, Mary Sue IttnerHabenaria laevigata, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue IttnerHabenaria laevigata, Naude's Nek, Mary Sue Ittner

Habenaria lithophila Schltr. is a tuberous orchid growing to 30 cm. found on stony grassland up to 2500 m. from the Western Cape of South Africa to Tanzania. It has green to yellowish green flowers. The lower petals lobes are long and very slender. It blooms late spring into summer. Photos taken January 2010 by Cameron McMaster at Naude's Nek.

Habenaria lithophila, Naude’s Nek, Cameron McMasterHabenaria lithophila, Naude’s Nek, Cameron McMaster

Habenaria medusa is sometimes wrongly written as H. medusae. It is probably synonymous with H. myriotricha. It is native to southeast Asia. The inflorescence reaches about 18 inches (40 cm) in height and the flowers are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) across. It is not an easy species to cultivate and requires very good orchid conditions with a lot of moisture and air movement. After flowering, it will go into a dormant stage where the tubers must remain somewhere between moist and dry. When new shoots appear, increase watering to keep the medium just moist until vigorous growth commences. Photos 1-3 were taken by of a cultivated plant (bought as H. myriotricha) taken September, 2009 by Eugene Zielinski. The other flower in the first picture is Pecteilis sagarikii. Photo 4 was taken by Nhu Nguyen.

Habenaria myriotricha, Eugene ZielinskiHabenaria myriotricha, Eugene ZielinskiHabenaria myriotricha, Eugene ZielinskiHabenaria medusa, Nhu Nguyen

Habenaria radiata is a synonym for Pecteilis radiata.


Habanaria rhodocheila is native to a broad geographic range from southern China to Malaysia and the Philippines. There are several color forms. After flowering, it will go into a dormant stage where the tubers must remain somewhere between moist and dry. When new shoots appear, increase watering to keep the medium just moist until vigorous growth commences. Photos 1-5 were taken by Nhu Nguyen. Photo 4 shows the side view that includes the stigmatic surface. Photo 6 shows a pollinium.

Habenaria rhodocheila, Nhu NguyenHabenaria rhodocheila, Nhu NguyenHabenaria rhodocheila, Nhu NguyenHabenaria rhodocheila, Nhu NguyenHabenaria rhodocheila, Nhu Nguyen

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Page last modified on March 30, 2012, at 05:31 PM