Pholidota Lindl.
  • Lindl., Exot. Fl. 2: t. 138 (1825)
  • Rattlesnake orchid

This is a synonym of Coelogyninae Benth.

General Description

Epiphytic, lithophytic, or terrestrial herbs. Roots often villous with root hairs. Rhizome creeping or pendulous. Scales of the young shoot either long-persistent, living or dry, or disintegrating entirely or partly. Pseudobulbs slender to distinctly swollen, approximate to distant along the rhizome or superposed. Leaves one or two, ovate-oblong to linear, herbaceous to stiff and thickcoriaceous, petiole channelled. Inflorescence racemose, few- to many-flowered, proteranthous, synanthous, hysteranthous or heteranthous, with scattered minute hairs on floral bracts, rachis, and sepals in several sections; scape of one internode, filiform or wiry to sturdy and erect, sterile bracts absent to many at base of rachis, caducous; floral bracts caducous or persistent, broadly hastate to ligulate, papyraceous to pergamentaceous. Flowers opening simultaneously, alternating in two rows, labellum turned downwards, closed to widely open, pedicel straight to twisted. Dorsal sepal broadly ovate to elliptic. Lateral sepals ovate to ovateoblong. Petals ovate or obovate to linear. Labellum not or hardly mobile, hypochile deeply saccate, epichile pronounced or not, bilobed or entire, without or with two calli or keels. Column with a hood, with or without a foot; anther transversely elliptic to narrowly triangular, pollinia pear-shaped, flattened, with a distinct depression, caudicles present; stigma cup-shaped; rostellum band-like to ligulate, hamulus sometimes (P. sect. Acanthoglossum) splitting off to leave a median slit. Ovary glabrous or with scattered minute hairs. Capsule 3- to 6-costate. Seeds fusiform, embryo ellipsoid. (EdV)


Plants are epiphytes, lithophytes, or sometimes terrestrials in primary, dense to open forests, sometimes on exposed lava flows or on bare rock. (EdV).


A genus of 31 species, occurring in eastern Pakistan, India (peninsula, Himalayas, Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands), Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, southeast China, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Philippines, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sunda Islands, the Moluccas, New Guinea, Australia (Queensland), the Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz Islands, Vanuatu, the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and Tahiti. (EdV)


Pseudobulbs of P. pallida Lindl. and P. articulata have been utilized as food (salep) in India. Also in India crushed roots of P. pallida have been used there to treat fevers, the capsule to heal ulcers and induce sleep, and the whole plant to assist in childbirth. In China, extracts of pseudobulbs of P. chinensis and P. yunnanensis have several medicinal uses (Lawler 1984). (AP)

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Asia-Temperate China China South-Central
  • China Southeast
  • Hainan
  • Tibet
  • Eastern Asia Taiwan
  • Asia-Tropical Indian Subcontinent Assam
  • Bangladesh
  • East Himalaya
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • West Himalaya
  • Indo-China Andaman Is.
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Nicobar Is.
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malesia Borneo
  • Jawa
  • Lesser Sunda Is.
  • Malaya
  • Maluku
  • Philippines
  • Sulawesi
  • Sumatera
  • Papuasia Bismarck Archipelago
  • New Guinea
  • Solomon Is.
  • Australasia Australia Queensland
  • Pacific Southwestern Pacific Fiji (Doubtful)
  • New Caledonia
  • Santa Cruz Is.
  • Vanuatu

Common Names

Rattlesnake orchidEnglish
Pangolins, Scaly Ant-eatersEnglish


 Information From

OpenUp Common Names
Common Names from the OpenUp! Common Names Service
  • A All Rights Reserved
WCS higher taxonomy
  • B All Rights Reserved
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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