The name of the genus is derived from the Greek selen, which means "moon", and pedium, which means "slipper" (referring to the pouch).
The seed capsules of these Central and South American lady's slipper orchids were formerly used as vanilla substitutes, but selenipediums are now rarely cultivated. Partly this is because of the difficulty of doing so, but is probably also due to the relatively small size of the Selenipedium's flower. The wild flower's Amazonian habitat is also under threat, so extinction is a risk for all species of Selenipedium.
There are only six true selenipedium species known ():
- Selenipedium aequinoctiale (The Equatorial occurring Selenipidum) is a terrestrial orchid found in Ecuador.
- Selenipedium chica
- Selenipedium isabelianum (Found in Brazil)
- Selenipedium palmifolium A dry land flower, its habitat is endangered by deforestation of the Amazon basin for agriculture.
- Selenipedium steyermarkii (Brazil, Venezuela)
- Selenipedium vanillocarpum is a Brazilian species adapted to a mountain habitat, a colony was rediscovered in 2001