Sunday, March 7, 2010

Orchidantha maxillaroides

The genus Orchidantha is based on O. borneensis described by N.E. Brown in 1886. In 1893, Ridley named another new species featured in the picture, Orchidantha maxillaroides , from a plant collected in Pahang and went on to errect a new family Lowiaceae to place these plants. The family is closely related to Musa (the banana family) in having 5 stamens facing a style and a large middle petal. Flowers last only 1-2 days and are found on branching inflorescence. The flower looked like an orchid, with 2 lateral petals and a large central petal known as labellum (equivalent to the lip of orchids, the landing pad for pollinating insects).

Flowers from O. borneensis and fimbriata are known to be putrid to attract flies or dung beetles but I could not detect any smell in this plant. Paradoxically, natives from Terengannu were obseved to use the leaves of O. fimbriata, which seemed to have a banana smell when crushed, to wrap rice cakes.

Since there's not much information about other species of this little known genus in the internet, I reproduce here an ID key based on R.E. Holttum's paper in 1970. It's very likely that more species have been described since then.

6 comments:

Hermes said...

What a fascinating genus. The latest report I can find gives 16 spp. but no reference, though I suspect they are using this pdf paper:

http://www.sekj.org/PDF/anbf41/anbf41-429.pdf

The flowers actually just look like orchids, but as you say aree closely related to Musa and the Gingers. Enjoyed that.

้‡ไป” said...

very interesting plants with an ironical name LOL

Anonymous said...

I have this one - pretty plain when nt flowering, looks like one of those Marantha family stuff.

Hon E

Anonymous said...

This genus is also the only genus in the family Lowiaceae, and the current number is 15 species.

If you're curious, visit:

http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/Research/APweb/welcome.html

This website is very up-to-date and current, and is tracking the changes of phylogeny as it is happening. Lowiaceae is in the order Zingiberales.

Anonymous said...

Lovely! This plant prefers shade and makes good indoor ornamentals:) Have you grown them before?

Rgds
Alfredo, Singapore

Hort Log said...

I am growing it now. Its shade tolerant but unfortnately not free flowering.

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