Dendrochilum (abbreviation in trade journals Ddc.) is a genus of about 300 epiphytic, lithophytic and a few terrestrial species, belonging to the orchid family (Orchidaceae). The name of this genus is derived from the Greek words dendron ("tree") and either cheilos ("lip") or chilos ("green food"), alluding to either their large lip or to their epiphytic growth. Many websites state a lesser number of species in this genus (varying between 100 and 150), but the authoritative World Checklist of Monocotyledons of Kew Botanical Bardens gives 390 records, including names that have become synonyms. Many of these orchids, actually 67, were named by Johannes Jacobus Smith, an eminent Dutch botanist.

Acoridium Nees and Meyen, 1843 and Platyclinis Benth., 1881 are synonyms of this genus.


They are distributed at higher elevations in humid rainforests from southeast Asia to New Guinea, Borneo, Thailand and the Philippines, but most species are to be found in Borneo or the Philippines.


This genus has a wide variety of miniature, fragrant, star-shaped flowers that are generally produced in two rows on erect or arching pendant, many-flowered racemes. These inflorescences can grow to a length of 50 cm (Dendrochilum glumaceum). Their stems contain ovoid to cylindrical, striped, sharply reduced pseudobulbs, about 4-10 cm long, with green to brown bracts at their base. Each carries one or two erect, though, lanceolate leaves, about 20 cm long, with narrow petioles. The elliptical leaves of Dendrochilum longifolium may grow to a length of 40 cm.

These orchids are popular among fans of non-traditional orchid curiosities.


Reference works

  • Barkman, T. J. and J. J. Wood. 2004. The genus Dendrochilum. Pp. XX-XX. In Genera Orchidacearum, Vol. 3., Pridgeon, A., M. Chase, P. Cribb & F.N. Rasmussen (eds.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K
  • David Banks and Jim Cootes: The genus Dendrochilum; in Orchids Australia (1995)
  • Wood, J. J. 1997. Orchids of Borneo: vol.3. Dendrobium, Dendrochilum and others. Sabah Society, Kota Kinabalu and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Pedersen, H. A. 1997. The genus Dendrochilum (Orchidaceae) in the Philippines -- a taxonomic revision. Opera Bot. 131: 5-205.
  • Cootes, J. 2002. Dendrochilum: elegance in miniature. Orchid Rev. 110(1246): 212-217.

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