Friday, 23 January 2015 20:56

Paphiopedilum: General Information

Written by



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Venus' Slipper
Paphiopedilum henryanum Orchi 001.jpg
Paphiopedilum henryanum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae
Genus: Paphiopedilum

5, see text

About 80 species
Paphiopedilum distribution map.png
  • Cordula Raf.
  • Menephora Raf.
  • Stimegas Raf.

Paphiopedilum, often called the Venus slipper, is a genus of the Lady slipper orchid subfamily Cypripedioideae of the flowering plant family Orchidaceae. The genus comprises some 80 accepted taxa including several natural hybrids. The genus is native to Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, southern China, New Guinea and the Solomon and Bismarck Islands.

The species and their hybrids are extensively cultivated, and are known as either paphiopedilums, or by the abbreviation paphs in horticulture.

The type species of this genus is Paphiopedilum insigne.



Paphiopedilum species naturally occur among humus layers as terrestrials on the forest floor, while a few are true epiphytes and some are lithophytes. These sympodial orchids lack pseudobulbs. Instead, they grow robust shoots, each with several leaves; some are hemicryptophytes. The leaves can be short and rounded or long and narrow, and typically have a mottled pattern. When older shoots die, newer ones take over. Each new shoot only blooms once when it is fully grown, producing a raceme between the fleshy, succulent leaves. The roots are thick and fleshy. Potted plants form a tight lump of roots that, when untangled, can be up to 1 m long.

Members of this genus are considered highly collectible by orchid fanciers due to the curious and unusual form of their flowers. Along with Cypripedium, Mexipedium, Phragmipedium and Selenipedium, the genus is a member of the subfamily Cypripedioideae, commonly referred to as the "lady's-slippers" or "slipper orchids" due to the unusual shape of the pouch-like labellum of the flower. The pouch traps insects seeking nectar, and to leave again they have to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia. The orchid, despite several attempts to clone by tissue culture, has never been successfully cloned, for unknown reasons. This means every plant is unique.


In horticulture

The paphiopedilums are among the most widely cultivated and hybridized of orchid genera. Spectacular new species are being discovered every now and then; for example the Golden Slipper Orchid (P. armeniacum), discovered in 1979 and described in 1982, amazed growers of orchids by the extraordinary beauty of its golden flowers. In addition, growers have bred thousands of interspecific hybrids and registered them with the Royal Horticultural Society in London over the years.

These orchids are relatively easy to grow indoors, as long as conditions that mimic their natural habitats are created. Most species thrive in moderate to high humidity (50-70%), moderate temperatures ranging from 13 to 35 degrees Celsius and low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux. Modern hybrids are typically easier to grow in artificial conditions than their parent species.


Taxonomy and systematics

The genus name Paphiopedilum was established by Ernst Hugo Heinrich Pfitzer in 1886; it is derived from Paphos (a city in Cyprus, a place sacred to Aphrodite. It was said she landed at the site when rose from the sea as her birth.) and Ancient Greek pedilon "slipper". Ironically, no paphiopedilum occurs on Cyprus – at least not as the genus is understood today. But it was long mixed up with its Holarctic relative Cypripedium, which indeed grows in the Mediterranean region. Paphiopedilum was finally decided to be a valid taxon in 1959, but its use has become restricted to eastern Asian species in our time.



The genus Paphiopedilum has been divided into several subgenera, and then further into sections and subsections:

  • Subgenus Sigmatopetalum
    • Section Spathopetalum
      • Subsection Macronidium
      • Subsection Spathopetalum
    • Section Blepharopetalum
    • Section Mastersianum
    • Section Punctatum
    • Section Barbata
      • Subsection Lorapetalum
      • Subsection Chloroneura
    • Section Planipetalum
    • Section Venustum
  • Subgenus Cochlopetalum



See also


Milo Rambaldi for the fictional species "Paphiopedilum khan"

×Phragmipaphium, supposed hybrids between Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium





Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families

Koopowitz, H. (2012). An updated, annotated checklist of the genus Paphiopedilum. Orchid Digest 76: 178-215.

Leong, K.F. (2013). Flora of Peninsular Malaysia - Cypripedioideae. Malesian Orchid Journal 12: 117-131.

Braem, G.J.; Baker, Charles O. & Baker, Margaret L. (1998): The Genus Paphiopedilum: Natural History and Cultivation (Vol. 1). Botanical Publishers Inc., Kissimmee, Florida, USA.

Leroy-Terquem, Gerald & Parisot, Jean (1991): Orchids: Care and Cultivation. Cassel Publishers Ltd., London, UK.

Pridgeon, A.M.; Cribb, P.J.; Chase, M.W. & Rasmussen, F.N. (1999): Genera Orchidacearum (Vol.1). Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-850513-2

Schoser, Gustav (1993): Orchid Growing Basics. Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., New York City, New York, USA.

White, Judy (1996): Taylor's Guide to Orchids. Houghton-Mifflin, New York City, New York, USA.


External links


Media related to Paphiopedilum at Wikimedia Commons

Data related to Paphiopedilum at Wikispecies

Paphiopedilum Orchids

Orchid Picture Gallery

Paphiopedilum Photo Gallery from ""





Selected species

There are more than 550 taxa in this genus, including some 80 valid species. Some notable species and their natural hybrids are listed here, together with some assorted varieties and forms:

HINT: Many of the species and hybrids listed above are "hot linked" to specific information on Wikipedia. Some have additional information and others lead to pages waiting to be dveloped. On Wikipedia, do not forget the "Talk" link as this is a discussion area regarding the published material.


Read 13346 times Last modified on Sunday, 06 December 2015 15:36
More in this category: Slipper Orchids (Paphiopedilum) »
  • No comments found

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

Your comments are subjected to administrator's moderation.


All information presented here is for educational and informational purposes only under the guidelines of "Fair Use" policies defined by US Copyright law(s).  Some images and select text are protected by respective copyright holders. Material presented here is done so as educational, and "as is".  The Napa Valley Orchid Society, it's executive Board, General members and the web site maintainer cannot be held liable for any damages incurred.

When necessary, images and texts will be fully credited to the original.

Information here may be used by other orchid societies as long as they credit the original creator and at least mention the Napa Valley Orchid Website as a courtesy.