Taeniophyllum – one of the smallest orchid in the world

picture taken in Quezon province:

Taeniophyllum sp. Blume

Common Names: Pin head orchid, minute orchid, leafless orchid , tapeworm orchid

INTRODUCTION: A genus of leafless orchids. Around one hundred eighty  to two hundred species in this genus are distributed from India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia , Southeast Asia  the Philippines to New Guinea, Australia, some Pacific Islands as far as Tahiti. New Guinea is considered to be the centre of distribution with some eighty species alone, some of which may prove to be con specific.

GENUS NAME: The genus name is taken from the Greek tainia (band, fillet, ribbon) and phyllon (leaf) in a reference not clearly understood as these orchids are leafless.

Its scientific name means, rather unattractively, ‘tapeworm leaf’. Its roots have not only developed into flat, tapeworm-like shapes several yards long that writhe statically all over the branch on which the plant sits.

Type Species : Taeniophyllum glandulosum Blume

CHARACTERISTICS : The species in the genus are small to very small leafless epiphytes with flattened green roots which contain chlorophyll and have taken over the photosynthetic role of the leaves. The leaves are reduced to minute, overlapping scales covering the stem apex. The flowers of the species are very short-lived, they are mostly greenish-white to yellow.

Taeniophyllums have small brown scales instead of leaves and the process of photosynthesis is carried out in the green roots. Most members of this genus grow upon the twigs of rain forest trees and in cultivation.

NUMBER OF SECTIONS IN THE GENUS: The genus is divided into two sub-genera and six sections along their difference in united or free sepals and petals.

HABITAT: Not easily detected in their natural habitat the species grow on tree trunks either near the forest floor or among the dense foliage of the smaller twigs. They are found from sea level to about 1000 m.

In the Philippines , some species could be seen growing on mango trees and small trees. This orchid prefers to be undisturbed and could not survive on long dry conditions.

One Response

  1. thanks to learn about these minute orchids

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