Closeup of a Phalaenopsis flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Vandeae
Subtribe: Aeridinae
Alliance: Phalaenopsis
Genus: Phalaenopsis
Blume 1825
Type species
Phalaenopsis amabilis
Blume (1825)

see text.

  • Doritis Lindl.
  • Grafia A. D. Hawkes
  • Kingidium P. F. Hunt
  • Kingiella Rolfe
  • Polychilos Breda
  • Polystylus Hasselt ex Hassk.
  • Staurites Rchb. f.
  • Stauroglottis Schauer
  • Synadena Raf.

Phalaenopsis (play /ˌfælɨˈnɒpsɪs/) Blume (1825), abbreviated Phal in the horticultural trade,[1] is an orchid genus of approximately 60 species. Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular orchids in the trade, through the development of many artificial hybrids.



The generic name means "Phalaen[a]-like" and is probably a reference to the genus Phalaena, the name given by Carolus Linnaeus to a group of large moths; the flowers of some species supposedly resemble moths in flight. For this reason, the species are sometimes called Moth orchids.

They are native throughout southeast Asia from the Himalayan mountains to the islands of Polillo, Palawan and Zamboanga del Norte in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines and northern Australia. Orchid Island of Taiwan is named after this genus. Little recent information about their habitat and their ecology in nature is available since little field research has been done in the last decades.

Phalaenopsis aphrodite (Moon Orchid)

Most are epiphytic shade plants; a few are lithophytes. In the wild, some species grow below the canopies of moist and humid lowland forests, protected against direct sunlight; others grow in seasonally dry or cool environments. The species have adapted individually to these three habitats.

Possessing neither pseudobulbs nor rhizome, Phalaenopsis shows a monopodial growth habit: a single growing stem produces one or two alternate, thick, fleshy, elliptical leaves a year from the top while the older, basal leaves drop off at the same rate. If very healthy, a Phalaenopsis plant can have up to ten or more leaves. The inflorescence, either a raceme or panicle, appears from the stem between the leaves. They bloom in their full glory for several weeks. If kept in the home, the flowers may last two to three months.

Some Phalaenopsis species in Malaysia are known to use subtle weather cues to coordinate mass flowering.


P. Sogo Yukidian[verification needed]

The species can be classified into two groups :

  • A group with a long, branched inflorescence (up to 1 m long) and large, almost round flowers with rose or white tints.
  • A group with short stems and less rounded, waxy flowers with more pronounced colors.

In terms of Raunkiær plant lifeform terminology, these plants are epiphytes.

Based on DNA-evidence, the genera Doritis Lindl. and Kingidium P.F.Hunt are now included in Phalaenopsis, according to the World Checklist of Monocotyledons, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew) (See also ref 1). However not every specialist in this field accepts these taxonomic changes.

Intensive cross-fertilization has produced a great number of hybrids in all colors and variations. These are usually more adaptable to artificial conditions than their botanical ancestors. Many are hybrids of Phalaenopsis amabilis, Phalaenopsis schilleriana or Phalaenopsis stuartiana.


Phalaenopsis (Barbara Moler x Johanna) (an artificial hybrid cultivar)
  • Phalaenopsis amabilis (Moon Orchid; East Malaysia to Papuasia)
    • Phalaenopsis amabilis subsp. amabilis (East Malaysia to Papuasia).
    • Phalaenopsis amabilis subsp. amabilis forma Grandiflora (the Philippines - Palawan island).
    • Phalaenopsis amabilis subsp. moluccana (Northeastern Borneo to the Moluccas).
    • Phalaenopsis amabilis subsp. rosenstromii (New Guinea to Queensland).
  • Phalaenopsis amboinensis (Sulawesi to the Moluccas).
    • Phalaenopsis amboinensis var. amboinensis (the Moluccas).
    • Phalaenopsis amboinensis var. flavida (Sulawesi)
Pink Phalaenopsis
  • Phalaenopsis aphrodite (Southeastern Taiwan to the Philippines).
    • Phalaenopsis aphrodite subsp. aphrodite (the Philippines).
    • Phalaenopsis aphrodite subsp. formosana (Southeastern Taiwan).
  • Phalaenopsis appendiculata (Malaya to northeastern Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis bastianii (the Philippines - Luzon).
  • Phalaenopsis bellina (Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis borneensis (Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis braceana (Eastern Himalayas to China - Yunnan).
  • Phalaenopsis buyssoniana (Indochina)
  • Phalaenopsis celebensis (Sulawesi)
  • Phalaenopsis chibae (Vietnam)
Phalaenopsis flower.JPG
  • Phalaenopsis cochlearis (Malaya to Borneo)
  • Phalaenopsis corningiana (Borneo)
  • Phalaenopsis cornu-cervi (Indochina to southern Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis deliciosa (Indian subcontinent to Malesia)
    • Phalaenopsis deliciosa subsp. deliciosa (Indian subcontinent to Malesia)
    • Phalaenopsis deliciosa subsp. hookeriana (Eastern Himalayas to southwestern China)
    • Phalaenopsis deliciosa subsp. philippinensis (the Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis doweryënsis (Northeastern Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis equestris (Taiwan - Hsiao Lan Yü to the Philippines)
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. alba
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. aurantiacum
    • Phalaenopsis equestris f. aurea (synonym of the accepted name Phalaenopsis equestris (Schauer) Rchb.f.,, 1850 )
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. coerulea
    • Phalaenopsis equestris f. cyanochila (synonym of the accepted name Phalaenopsis equestris (Schauer) Rchb.f.,, 1850 )
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. leucaspis
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. leucotanthe
    • Phalaenopsis equestris var. rosea (synonym of the accepted name Phalaenopsis equestris (Schauer) Rchb.f.,, 1850 )
  • Phalaenopsis fasciata (the Philippines).
  • Phalaenopsis fimbriata (Sumatra, Java and Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis floresensis (Lesser Sunda Islands).
  • Phalaenopsis fuscata (Borneo to Philippines - Palawan island)
  • Phalaenopsis gibbosa (Vietnam).
Phalaenopsis cultivars
  • Phalaenopsis gigantea (Borneo to Java).
  • Phalaenopsis hainanensis (China - Hainan and Yunnan).
  • Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica (the Philippines - Luzon, Leyte, Samar, Palawan, and Mindanao islands).
    • Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica var. Alba
  • Phalaenopsis honghenensis (China - Yunnan).
  • Phalaenopsis inscriptiosinensis (Central Sumatra
  • Phalaenopsis javanica (Western Java).
  • Phalaenopsis kunstleri (Myanmar to Malaya).
  • Phalaenopsis lamelligera (Northeastern Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis lindenii (the Philippines - Luzon island).
    • Phalaenopsis lindenii var. alba
  • Phalaenopsis lobbii (Eastern Himalayas to Myanmar).
  • Phalaenopsis lowii (Southern Myanmar to western Thailand).
  • Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana (the Philippines).
Phalaenopsis Mambo (a hybrid cultivar)
    • Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana var. delicata
    • Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana var. ochracea
  • Phalaenopsis luteola (Northwestern Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis maculata (Malaya to Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis malipoensis Z.J.Liu & S.C.Chen (China - Yunnan)
  • Phalaenopsis mannii (Eastern Himalayas to China - Yunnan).
  • Phalaenopsis mariae (Northeastern Borneo to the Philippines - Mindanao).
  • Phalaenopsis micholitzii (the Philippines - Mindanao island).
  • Phalaenopsis modesta (Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis mysorensis (Indian subcontinent).
  • Phalaenopsis pallens (the Philippines - Luzon and Mindanao islands).
  • Phalaenopsis pantherina (Borneo).
  • Phalaenopsis parishii (Eastern Himalayas to Myanmar).
  • Phalaenopsis petelotii (Vietnam)
  • Phalaenopsis philippinensis (the Philippines - Luzon island).
  • Phalaenopsis pulcherrima (Indochina to Borneo). Formerly classified as Doritis.
  • Phalaenopsis pulchra (the Philippines - Luzon island).
    • Phalaenopsis pulchra var. Alba
  • Phalaenopsis regnieriana (Indochina).
  • Phalaenopsis reichenbachiana (the Philippines - Mindanao island).
Phalaenopsis Nivacolor (a hybrid cultivar)
  • Phalaenopsis robinsonii (the Moluccas).
  • Phalaenopsis sanderiana (the Philippines - Mindanao island).
    • Phalaenopsis sanderiana var. Alba
    • Phalaenopsis sanderiana var. Marmorata
  • Phalaenopsis schilleriana (the Philippines - Luzon, Mindoro, and Biliran islands).
    • Phalaenopsis schilleriana var. immaculata
  • Phalaenopsis speciosa (Andaman and Nicobar Islands).
  • Phalaenopsis stobartiana (China - southeastern Tibet to Guangxi)
  • Phalaenopsis stuartiana (the Philippines - Mindanao island).
    • Phalaenopsis stuartiana var. nobilis
    • Phalaenopsis stuartiana var. punctatissima
  • Phalaenopsis sumatrana (Indochina, Borneo to Philippines - Palawan island).
  • Phalaenopsis taenialis (Eastern Himalayas to China - Yunnan)
  • Phalaenopsis tetraspis (Andaman and Nicobar Islands to northwestern Sumatra).
  • Phalaenopsis venosa (Sulawesi).
  • Phalaenopsis violacea (Malaya to Sumatra).).
  • Phalaenopsis viridis (Sumatra).
  • Phalaenopsis wilsonii (China - southeastern Tibet to Guangxi).
  • Phalaenopsis zebrina (Borneo).

Natural hybrids

A Phalaenopsis hybrid
  • Phalaenopsis × amphitrita (P. sanderiana × P. stuartiana; Mindanao - Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis × gersenii (P. sumatrana × P. violacea; Borneo, Sumatra)
  • Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica × lueddemanniana (P. hieroglyphica x P. lueddemanniana; (Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis × intermedia (P. aphrodite × P. equestris; Star of Leyte; Leyte - Philippines) (First recognized Phalaenopsis hybrid)
    • Phalaenopsis × intermedia var. Diezii (P. aphrodite × P. equestris; Star of Leyte; Leyte - Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis × leucorrhoda (P. aphrodite × P. schilleriana; Luzon - Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis × rothschildiana (P. amabilis × P. schilleriana; Luzon - Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis x schilleriano-stuartiana (P. schilleriana × P. stuartiana; Leyte - Philippines)
  • Phalaenopsis × singuliflora (P. bellina × P. sumatrana; Borneo)
  • Phalaenopsis × veitchiana (P. equestris × P. schilleriana; Luzon and Leyte - Philippines)

Intergeneric hybrids

The following nothogenera have been established for intergeneric hybrids which include species of Phalaenopsis as ancestors.

  • ×Aeridopsis (Aerides × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Arachnopsis (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Asconopsis (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Beardara (Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Bogardara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vanda × Vandopsis)
  • ×Bokchoonara (Arachnis × Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Cleisonopsis (Cleisocentron × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Devereuxara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Diplonopsis (Diploprora × Phalaenopsis)
Pink Phalaenopsis (Moth) Orchids
  • ×Doriellaopsis (Doritis × Kingiella × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Doritaenopsis (Doritis × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Dresslerara (Ascoglossum × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Edeara (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vandopsis)
  • ×Ernestara (Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vandopsis)
  • ×Eurynopsis (Eurychone × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Hagerara (Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Hausermannara (Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Vandopsis)
  • ×Himoriara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis × Vanda)
  • ×Isaoara (Aerangis × Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Laycockara (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis × Vandopsis)
  • ×Lichtara (Doritis × Gastrochilus × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Luinopsis (Luisia × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Lutherara (Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Rhynchostylis )
  • ×Macekara (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vanda × Vandopsis)
  • ×Meechaiara (Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis × Vanda)
  • ×Moirara (Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vanda)
  • ×Nakagawaara (Aerides × Doritis × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Owensara (Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Parnataara (Aerides × Arachnis × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Paulara (Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vanda)
  • ×Pepeara (Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Phalaerianda (Aerides × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Phalandopsis (Phalaenopsis × Vandopsis)
  • ×Phalanetia (Neofinetia × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Phaliella (Kingiella × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Phalphalaenopsis (Phalaenopsis × Paraphalaenopsis
  • ×Pooleara (Ascocentrum × Ascoglossum × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Renanthopsis (Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Rhynchonopsis (Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis)
  • ×Rhyndoropsis (Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis)
  • ×Richardmizutaara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vandopsis)
  • ×Roseara (Doritis × Kingiella × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera )
  • ×Sappanara (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera)
  • ×Sarconopsis (Phalaenopsis × Sarcochilus)
  • ×Sidranara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera)
  • ×Sladeara (Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Sarcochilus)
  • ×Stamariaara (Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Renanthera × Vanda)
  • ×Sutingara (Arachnis × Ascocentrum × Phalaenopsis × Vanda × Vandopsis)
  • ×Trautara (Doritis × Luisia × Phalaenopsis)
  • ×Trevorara (Arachnis × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Trichonopsis (Phalaenopsis × Trichoglottis)
  • ×Uptonara (Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis × Sarcochilus)
  • ×Vandaenopsis (Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Vandewegheara (Ascocentrum × Doritis × Phalaenopsis × Vanda)
  • ×Yapara (Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis × Vanda)
  • ×Yeepengara (Aerides × Phalaenopsis × Rhynchostylis × Vanda)

Post-pollination changes in Phalaenopsis orchids

Phalaenopsis are not only outstanding in their beauty, but also unique in that in some species, the flowers turn into green leaves after pollination. As in many other plants, the petals of the orchid flowers serve to attract pollinating insects and protect essential organs. Following pollination, petals will usually undergo senescence (i.e. wilt and disintegrate) because it is metabolically expensive to maintain them. In many Phalaenopsis species such as P.violacea, the petals and sepals find new uses following pollination and thus escaping programmed cell death. By producing chloroplasts, they turn green, become fleshy and apparently start to photosynthesize, just like leaves.[2]

Growing Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis bellina

Phalaenopsis are among the most popular orchids sold as potted plants owing to the ease of propagation and flowering under artificial conditions. They were among the first tropical orchids in Victorian collections. Since the advent of the tetraploid hybrid Phalaenopsis Doris, they have become extremely easy to grow and flower in the home, as long as some care is taken to provide them with conditions that approximate their native habitats. Their production has become a commercial industry.

In nature, they are typically fond of warm temperatures (20 to 35 °C), but are adaptable to conditions more comfortable for human habitation in temperate zones (15 to 30 °C); at temperatures below 18 °C (64 °F) overwatering causes root rot. Phalaenopsis requires high humidity (60-70%) and low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux. It was previously believed that flowering is triggered by a night-time drop in temperature of around 5 to 6 degrees over 2 to 4 consecutive weeks, usually in the fall, and a day-time drop in temperature to below 29 °C (84 °F).[3]

The flower spikes appear from the pockets near the base of each leaf. The first sign is a light green "mitten-like" object that protrudes from the leaf tissue. In about three months, the spike elongates until it begins to swell fat buds which will bloom.

Using two Phalaenopsis clones, Matthew G. Blanchard and Erik S. Runkle (2006) established that, other culture conditions being optimal, flower initiation is controlled by daytime temperatures declining below 27 °C (81 °F), with a definite inhibition of flowering at temperatures exceeding 29 °C (84 °F). The long-held belief that reduced evening temperatures control flower initiation in Phalaenopsis is shown to be false. Rather, daytime temperatures influence flowering while night time temperatures do not appear to have any effect.[3]

External links


  1. ^[dead link]
  2. ^ Wouter G. van Doorn (October 2005). "Plant programmed cell death and the point of no return". Trends in Plant Science 10 (10): 478–483. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2005.08.003. PMID 16153879. 
  3. ^ a b Blanchard, Matthew G; Runkle, Erik S (2006). "Temperature during the day, but not during the night, controls flowering of Phalaenopsis orchids". Journal of Experimental Botany 57 (15): 4043–4050. doi:10.1093/jxb/erl176. PMID 17075080. 
  • Original publication by Carl Blume in "Bijdragen tot de Flora van Nederlandsch Indië"
  • Seon Kim, Clifford W. Morden, Yoneo Sagawa, and Jae -Young Kim (2003). "The Phylogeny of Phalaenopsis Species". Proceedings of NIOC2003, Nagoya, Japan. 
  • Olaf Gruss & Manfred Wolf - Phalaenopsis ; Edition Ulmer, ISBN 3-8001-6551-1 (in German)
  • Eric A. Christenson - Phalaenopsis: a Monograph ; ISBN 0-88192-494-6
  • Harper, Tom (February 2004). Phalaenopsis Culture: Advice for Growing 20 Species. Orchids Magazine 73 (2). Delray Beach, FL: American Orchid Society, 2004.
  • Leroy-Terquem, Gerald and Jean Parisot. 1991. Orchids: Care and Cultivation. London: Cassel Publishers Ltd.
  • Schoser, Gustav. 1993. Orchid Growing Basics. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
  • White, Judy. 1996. Taylor’s Guide to Orchids. Frances Tenenbaum, Series Editor. New York: Houghton-Mifflin.

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