About 20 species of these lady's slipper orchids are known from SW Mexico, Central and tropical South America.
All members of the genus Phragmipedium are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
TaxonomyThe genus Phragmipedium is divided into several sections :
- Phragmipedium : P. caudatum, P. exstaminodium, P. lindenii
- Himantopetalum : P. caricinum, P. christiansenianum, P. pearcei, P. klotzscheanum, P. richteri, P. tetzlaffianum.
- Platypetalum : P. lindleyanum
- Lorifolia : P. boissierianum, P. hirtzii, P. longifolium, P. vittatum
- Micropetalum : P. besseae, P. besseae var. dalessandroi, P. fischeri, P. kovachii, P. schlimii.
- Schluckebieria : P. kovachii
Most Phragmipedium species are either terrestrial, epiphytic or lithophytic in habit. They show a unique shieldlike staminode, long, moustache-like petals and a 3-locular ovary. The large pouchlike lip is curved inwards at the margins. The acute leaves attain a length of about 80 cm. The stem lacks pseudobulbs and grows about 80 cm high, showing 2 to 3 flowers.
Phragmipedium besseae was first found in Peru by Elizabeth Locke Besse in 1981. Soon afterwards, the site was plundered and destroyed by orchid hunters. Luckily enough seed was preserved, to avert extinction. This orchid is unusual, because its flowers have a bright orange-red to almost strong salmon-red color (there is also a yellow variety), unseen in any lady's slipper orchid. The oval-shaped petals are wide. The narrow leaves are elliptic in shape. It has since been used extensively in hybridization.
Phragmipedium caudatum is considered a complex, i.e. it could contain several species or subspecies, based on differences in flower size and color. This orchid with a short stem is semi-terrestrial, semi-lithophytic to epiphytic, depending on the substrate . The cream-colored flowers are laced with greenish stripes. The lateral spiraling, drooping petals are red-tinted and very long, even reaching the soil. They grow on wet, moss-covered hillsides.
Phragmipedium lindleyanum, named after John Lindley, forms a rosette of five long linear leaves with a yellow margin, reaching a length of 50 cm. The erect raceme can grow as high as 1 m. It is many-flowered and sometimes branched at the basis. The flowers open in succession, giving the orchid a long blooming period. The hoary flowers are green with brown veins. The glabrous, pouchlike lip is yellow, with red veins.
Phragmipedium longifolium, described in 1852 by H.G. Reichenbach f. and J. v. Warscewicz, has long laceolate leaves without yellow margin, growing to a length of 60 cm. The inflorescence reaches a length of 1 m, with about 10 flowers, opening in succession. The long lateral petals are purplish green. The rather small glabrous labellum has a green color.
Allied genera include Paphiopedilum, Selenipedium, Cypripedium and the monotypic Mexipedium.
There are many interspecific hybrids. Rare crossings have been made between Phragmipedium and Paphiopedilum.
SynonymyThe genus Uropedium Lindl. is generally included in Phragmipedium.
- Phragmipedium andreettae P. J. Cribb & Pupulin (Ecuador)
- Phragmipedium besseae Dodson & J.Kuhn (Ecuador to N. Peru).
- Phragmipedium besseae var. besseae (E. Ecuador to N. Peru). Hemicr.
- Phragmipedium bessae var. flavum (Braem) Gruss et Roeth 1999 (Peru) (now synonym of Phragmipedium besseae var. besseae)
- Phragmipedium besseae var. dalessandroi (Dodson & O.Gruss) A.Moon & P.J.Cribb (S. Ecuador). Hemicr.
- Phragmipedium boissierianum (Rchb.f.) Rolfe (S. Ecuador to Peru).
- Phragmipedium boissierianum var. boissierianum (Peru). Hemicr.
- Phragmipedium boissierianum var. czerwiakowianum (Rchb.f.) O.Gruss (S. Ecuador to Peru)
- Phragmipedium brasiliense Quené & O.Gruss (Brazil)
- Phragmipedium caricinum (Lindl. & Paxton) Rolfe (Bolivia).
- Phragmipedium caudatum (Lindl.) Rolfe : Mandarin Orchid (Bolivia to Peru). (synonym : P. humboldtii subsp. humboldtii)
- Phragmipedium chapadense Campacci & R.Takase (Brazil).
- Phragmipedium christiansenianum O.Gruss & Roeth (Colombia) (now synonym of Phragmipedium longifolium (Warsz. & Rchb.f.) Rolfe)
- Phragmipedium exstaminodium Castaño, Hágsater & E.Aguirre (Mexico - Chiapas to Guatemala).
- Phragmipedium fischeri Braem & H.Mohr (Ecuador).
- Phragmipedium hirtzii Dodson (N. Ecuador).
- Phragmipedium humboldtii (Warsz. ex Rchb.f.) J.T.Atwood & Dressler (Costa Rica to Panama) (now synonym of : Phragmipedium popowii Braem, Ohlund & Quéné)
- Phragmipedium klotzschianum (Rchb.f.) Rolfe (SE. Venezuela to Guyana and N. Brazil).
- Phragmipedium kovachii J.T.Atwood, Dalström & Ric.Fernández (Peru – San Martin).
- Phragmipedium lindenii (Lindl.) Dressler & N.H.Williams (Venezuela to Ecuador).
- Phragmipedium lindleyanum (M.R.Schomb. ex Lindl.) Rolfe (N. South America to Brazil - Pernambuco).
- Phragmipedium longifolium (Warsz. & Rchb.f.) Rolfe (Costa Rica to Ecuador).
- Phragmipedium pearcei (Rchb.f.) Rauh & Senghas (Ecuador to N. Peru).
- Phragmipedium popowii Braem, Ohlund & Quéné (Costa Rica to Panama)
- Phragmipedium reticulatum (Rchb.f.) Schltr. (Ecuador to Peru).
- Phragmipedium richteri Roeth & O.Gruss (Peru).
- Phragmipedium × roethianum O.Gruss & Kalina (Ecuador) (P. hirtzii x P. longifolium)
- Phragmipedium schlimii (Linden ex Rchb.f.) (Colombia).
- Phragmipedium tetzlaffianum O.Gruss (Venezuela).
- Phragmipedium vittatum (Vell.) Rolfe (WC. & SE. Brazil).
- Phragmipedium wallisii (Rchb.f.) Garay (now synonym of : Phragmipedium warszewiczianum (Rchb.f.) Schltr.)
- Phragmipedium warszewiczianum (Rchb.f.) Schltr. (Colombia to Ecuador)