Spathoglottis plicata (Philippine ground orchid)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Natural enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Spathoglottis plicata Blume, 1825
Preferred Common Name
- Philippine ground orchid
Other Scientific Names
- Bletia angustifolia Gaudich.
- Calanthe poilanei Gagnep.
- Paxtonia rosea Lindl.
- Phaius rumphii Blume
- Spathoglottis angustifolia (Gaudich.) Benth. & Hook.f.
- Spathoglottis augustorum Rchb.f.
- Spathoglottis daenikeri Kraenzl.
- Spathoglottis deplanchei Rchb.f.
- Spathoglottis lilacina Griff.
- Spathoglottis plicata var. minahassae Schltr.
- Spathoglottis rosea (Lindl.) G.Nicholson
- Spathoglottis spicata Lindl.
- Spathoglottis vieillardii Rchb.f
International Common Names
- English: fernland orchid; large purple orchid; Philippine orchid
- Spanish: arequita; espatoglotis; orquídea de suelo; orquídea del sol
- Chinese: zi hua bao she lan
Local Common Names
- Australia: ground orchid; purple orchid
- Cook Islands: fernland orchid
- Niue: pupukale
- Puerto Rico: orquídea morada
- Samoa: o'o
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
S. plicata is a terrestrial orchid which has considerable horticultural value, but which is invasive in sensitive tropical habitats. It is included in the World Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012), and is listed as an environmental weed in Cuba (González-Torres et al., 2012), St. Lucia (Graveson, 2012), Puerto Rico (Recart et al., 2013), and numerous islands in the Pacific such as Hawaii, French Polynesia, and the Cook Islands (Wagner et al., 1999; PIER, 2012). S. plicata is a fast-growing orchid with a wide environmental tolerance. Flowers in this species are self-pollinating, and each plant can produce a large number of fruits and seeds (Ackerman, 1995).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Orchidales
- Family: Orchidaceae
- Genus: Spathoglottis
- Species: Spathoglottis plicata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The Orchidaceae family is one of the largest and most diverse monocot families. Orchidaceae includes about 880 genera and 22,075 species broadly distributed throughout the world except in Antarctica (Ackerman, 1995). New species are continually being described, and numerous hybrids exist naturally or are created by horticulturists. The orchid family has a considerable economic and horticultural value and large number of species and cultivars are widely commercialized as ornamentals (Jones, 2006). The genus Spathoglottis includes about 45 species distributed across the Indo-Pacific region, Southeastern Asia and Australia (Jones, 2006; Stevens, 2012). The specific epithet “plicata“ means “pleated” and refers to the leaf surface (Ackerman, 1995).
DescriptionTop of page
Erect, terrestrial, and perennial herbs 3-15 dm tall, pseudobulbs crowded along and obscuring rhizomes, ovoid, up to 4 cm diameter. Leaves are lanceolate to broadly lanceolate, acuminate, bases attenuate and tapered into petioles, approximately 50-90 × 2-6 cm, veins conspicuously raised on lower surface, margins entire. Scape 60-100 cm tall, 1-4 mm diameter at the middle, hairy, with a few 3 cm long sheaths along length. Inflorescence 3-38 flowered; bracts persistent, oblong-ovate, acuminate and slightly keeled. Flowers are dark purple to pale pink or rarely white. Dorsal sepal 1.8-3 x 1-1.3 cm, narrowly ovate to ovate, hairy; lateral sepals obliquely ovate, pointed at the apex and slightly keeled, 1.6-2.8 × 1-1.2 cm, hairy. Petals are ovate, 2-3 × 1.3-1.8 cm. Lip T-shaped when flattened, each side-lobe making a right angle with the axis of the mid-lobe; side-lobes oblong, 7-8 × 2.5-3 mm; mid-lobe fiddle-shaped, much longer than side-lobes, 1-1.3 cm in length, with a long and narrow 0.14 cm wide claw and 5-7 mm wide apical lamina; at the base of the claw of the mid-lobe, on either side of the callus, is a deflexed auricle; callus slightly hairy, bipartite, each triangular-ovate and attenuate in front and terminating in a small wart in the middle of the claw of the mid-lobe. Fruit are cylindrical capsules, 6-ribbed, 2.5 × 0.7 cm; stalk 1.5 cm long, very shortly hairy (Cribb and Tang, 1982; Wagner et al., 1999).
DistributionTop of page
S. plicata is native to Australia, India, Southeastern Asia, and Pacific Islands including Solomon Islands, Tonga, Niue and Samoa (Govaerts, 2012; PIER, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012). It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental and currently its distribution includes Africa (i.e., Seychelles and Kenya; Govaerts, 2012; Recart et al., 2013), Florida (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008), Hawaii (Clifford and Kobayashi, 2012) and the West Indies including Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Martinique, Montserrat, St Lucia, St Vincent and St Kitts (Broome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012).
Herbarium collections at the Smithsonian documenting the spontaneous occurrence of S. plicata in the West Indies are relatively recent. Those from Dominica date from 1991 and those from Puerto Rico date from 2009. Collections from Puerto Rico show the species to be widely distributed throughout mountainous areas of the island. Because this species is commonly planted as a garden ornamental is likely that it has a wider geographical distribution than the official records suggest, particularly in warmer tropical countries where conditions for cultivation are more favourable (Clifford and Kobayashi, 2012).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|-Arunachal Pradesh||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|-Nusa Tenggara||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|Singapore||Present||Native||Chong et al., 2009|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Florida||Present||Introduced||Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Wagner et al., 1999|
Central America and Caribbean
|Barbados||Present||Introduced||Broome et al., 2007|
|Cayman Islands||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012|
|Cuba||Present||Introduced||Invasive||González-Torres et al., 2012|
|Dominica||Present||Introduced||Thompson and Wright, 1995|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012|
|Grenada||Present||Introduced||Broome et al., 2007|
|Haiti||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012|
|Martinique||Present||Introduced||Broome et al., 2007|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Ackerman, 1995; Recart et al., 2013||Impacting native orchid species|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Introduced||Broome et al., 2007|
|Saint Lucia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Graveson, 2012||Invasive, moving into the forest|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Introduced||Broome et al., 2007|
|United States Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Ackerman, 1995||St. Thomas|
|American Samoa||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Cook Islands||Present||Native||Invasive||McCormack, 2007; Govaerts, 2012|
|French Polynesia||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Florence et al., 2007||Marquesas and Society Islands|
|Guam||Present||Introduced||Fosberg et al., 1987|
|New Caledonia||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Present||Introduced||Fosberg et al., 1987|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|Solomon Islands||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
|Wallis and Futuna Islands||Present||Native||Govaerts, 2012|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The risk of introduction of S. plicata is high. This species is still sold in the nursery and landscape trade in many countries around the world and it is also available to the public through internet sites (i.e., garden and landscape companies online). As with many invasive plants, S. plicata is an autogamous species with the capability for self-pollination. It spreads by seeds, and also vegetatively by dividing rhizomes and tubers (Cribb and Tang, 1982, Ackerman, 1995; Recart et al., 2013).
HabitatTop of page
S. plicata can be found growing in a wide variety of habitats including open grassy areas and disturbed habitats in dry, wet, and mesic forests, along roadsides, open hillside thickets, and in coastal forest openings from sea level to about 800 metres (Smith, 1991; Ackerman, 1995; Wagner et al., 1999). S. plicata also occurs in sunny sites in swamps, seasonally inundated areas, and moist grassy patches close to small streams (Jones, 2006). Graveson reports the occurrence of this species in forests of St. Lucia (Graveson, 2012).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
A recent study in Puerto Rico demonstrated that the presence on this island of the invasive exotic S. plicata is negatively impacting populations of the native orchid Bletia patula (Recart et al., 2013). This study found a positive relationship between densities of the invasive orchid S. plicata and both the number of florivorous weevils Stethobaris polita on the native orchid B. patula and the amount of flower damage in the native orchid species. It is suggested that the presence of S. plicata on this island can have raised the abundance of the orchid weevil to pest levels, resulting in an indirect negative effect on populations of native orchids (Recart et al., 2013). This study suggests that competition between the exotic S. plicata and the native B. patula may be mediated by the florivorous weevil S. polita.
Biology and EcologyTop of page
S. plicata is an autogamous species and flowers have the potential for self-pollination. Ackerman (1995) reported that this species produced numerous flowers over a long period, but that only a few flowers were open at one time.
Physiology and Phenology
Flowering in this species has been reported from September to April in Australia, (Jones, 2006), and throughout the year in tropical locations (i.e., West Indies and Pacific Islands; Ackerman, 1995; Wagner et al., 1999).
All orchids have an obligate relationship with mycorrhizal symbionts during seed germination, with most of the symbionts being Rhizoctonia-like fungi (Arditti, 1992). This group of fungi includes anamorphs of Tulasnella, Ceratobasidium, and Thanatephorus. Most orchid species host more than one lineage, demonstrating considerable variation in mycorrhizal associations even among related orchid species. It has been suggested that the specificity of the mycorrhizal association may be connected with diversification within the family (Otero and Flanagan, 2006).
S. plicata prefers to grow in tropical habitats with warm temperatures in open, sunny, and disturbed areas from sea level to about 800 metres (Smith, 1991; Ackerman, 1995; Wagner et al., 1999; Ackerman, 2007). This species does not tolerate temperatures lower than 10°C (http://www.culturesheet.org/), and it grows best in soils with pH ranging from 6 to 7.5 (http://davesgarden.com).
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||4|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||35|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||10|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||800||3500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Stethobaris polita||Herbivore||Inflorescence||not specific||No|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
S. plicata, in common with many other orchids, produces thousands of minute dust-like seeds that are mainly wind-dispersed (Arditti, 1992). In addition, this species can be dispersed by dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (Dave’s Garden Website: http://davesgarden.com/).
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
Environmental ImpactTop of page
S. plicata has been identified as an environmental weed having the potential to negatively impact native plant communities, mainly native orchids (Recart et al., 2013). It has been suggested that invasive orchids such as S. plicata may be competing for fungal associates and pollinators, therefore adversely affecting the fitness of native orchid species (Cohen and Ackerman, 2009). Further studies are needed to identify and quantify competition mechanisms and fungal associations among native and exotic orchids.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Long lived
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - smothering
- Competition - strangling
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
UsesTop of page
Orchids are used particularly in horticulture and floristry but also increasingly in the pharmaceutical and fragrance industries. S. plicata is commonly used as a garden ornamental and is available in the nursery trade around the world.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
- Studies on the history of introduction of this species are highly recommended.
- Studies evaluating the impact of this exotic species on native plants and natural communities are needed in order to develop appropriate management and control strategies.
- Recommendations for management and for control of this species in natural areas are also needed.
ReferencesTop of page
Abraham A; Vatsala A, 1981. Introduction to orchids with illustration and descriptions of 150 south Indian orchids. Trivandrum, India: Tropical botanical garden and research institute.
Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm
Ackerman JD, 1995. An orchid flora of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, 73:1-203.
Broome R; Sabir K; Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html
Chong KY; Tan HTW; Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf
Clifford P; Kobayashi K, 2012. Naturalizing orchids and the Hawaii Pacific weed risk assessment system. Ornamentals and Flowers, OF-51. http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/OF-51.pdf
Cribb PJ; Tang CZ, 1982. Spathoglottis (Orchidacaea) in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Kew Bulletin, 36(4):721-729.
Florence J; Chevillotte H; Ollier C; Meyer JY, 2007. Nadeaud database of the flora of the french Polynesia (PAP) (Base de donnnes Nadeaud de la flore de la Polynesie francaise (PAP)). Papeete, French Polynesia: IRD - Unite 84 (Centre IRD de Tahiti et Antenne IRD - MNHN), Delegation a la Recherche. http://www.herbier-tahiti.pf/
Fosberg FR; Sachet M-H; Oliver R, 1987. A geographical checklist of the Micronesian monocotyledonae. Micronesia 20: 1-2, 19-129.
González-Torres LR; Rankin R; Palmarola A (eds), 2012. Invasive plants in Cuba. (Plantas Invasoras en Cuba.) Bissea: Boletin sobre Conservacion de Plantad del Jardin Botanico Nacional, 6:1-140.
Govaerts R, 2012. World Checklist of Orchidaceae. http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
Graveson R, 2012. Plants of Saint Lucia. http://www.saintlucianplants.com
Jones DL, 2006. The Complete Guide to Orchids of Australia. Frenchs Forest, NSW, Australia: Reed New Holland.
Otero JT; Flanagan NS, 2006. Orchid diversity: Beyond deception. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21:64 - 65.
PIER, 2012. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html
Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf
Recart W; Ackerman JD; Cuevas AA, 2013. There goes the neighborhood: apparent competition between invasive and native orchids mediated by a specialist florivorous weevil. Biological Invasions, 15(2):283-293. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-012-0283-0/fulltext.html
Smith AC, 1991. Flora Vitiensis nova: A new flora of Fiji. Lawai, Kauai, Hawai`i. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Volume 5, 626 pp.
Stevens PF, 2012. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/
Stow SJC, 2008. Non-native plant distribution in Montserrat: Conservation and Ecological aspects. UK: Imperial College of London.
Thompson SA; Wright Jr FW, 1995. Spathoglottis plicata (Orchidaceae): new to Dominica, another record from the Lesser Antilles. Caribbean Journal of Science, 31:148-149.
USDA-ARS, 2012. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx
Vijayakumar N; Subramanian D, 1994. Karyomorphological studies of Orchidaceae from Tamil Nadu. Cell and Chromosome Research, 17(1):40-47.
Wagner WI; Herbst DR; Sohmer SH, 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawaii, revised edition. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii Press.
Wunderlin RP; Hansen BF, 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Tampa, Florida, USA: University of South Florida. http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/
ContributorsTop of page
18/01/13 Original text by:
Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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