Nervilia, commonly known as shield orchids, is a genus of orchids with about 80 species widely distributed across most of sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia (Saudi Arabia, India, China, Japan, Indochina, Indonesia, etc.), Australia, and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.[1][2] Six species occur in Australia (2 or 3 of these endemic),[3] with 16 in India,[4] 10 in China[5] and 5 in South Africa.[6]

Shield orchids
Nervilia aragoana 4.JPG
Nervilia concolor in the Tsukuba Botanical Garden
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Nervilieae
Subtribe: Nerviliinae
Genus: Nervilia
Comm. ex Gaudich.

About 65, see text



Orchids in the genus Nervilia are terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, sympodial herbs with an oval to almost spherical tuber and sometimes a few short roots. One or two flowers are borne on an erect, fleshy, leafless flowering stem. When flowering the plants lack leaves, but a single erect or gound-hugging leaf develops after the flower has fully opened. The leaves are usually wrinkled or crumpled with distinct, fan-like veins, giving rise to the genus name. The flowers are often short-lived, lasting for only a few days. The sepals and petals are similar, but the labellum is prominent and often composed of three lobes. The genus is poorly understood, mainly because the flower and leaf are present at different times, so that herbarium specimens are often incomplete.[3][7][8]

Taxonomy and namingEdit

The genus Nervilia was first formally described in 1827 by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré after an unpublished description by Philibert Commerson. The description was published in his book Voyage autour du monde.[1][9] The name Nervilia is derived from the Latin word nervus meaning "nerve",[10] referring to the veined leaves.[11]

Nervilia is the sole member of its subtribe, the Nerviliinae.[12]

Species listEdit

The following is a list of species of Nervilia recognised by the Index Kewensis as at 16 August 2018:[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Nervilia". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b Jones, David L. (2006). A complete guide to native orchids of Australia including the island territories. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: New Holland. p. 280. ISBN 1877069124.
  4. ^ Orchid Kerala, Nervilia
  5. ^ Flora of China v 25 p 197, 芋兰属 yu lan shu, Nervilia Commerson ex Gaudichaud, Voy. Uranie, Bot. 421. 1829.
  6. ^ Plants of Southern Africa: an Online Check List
  7. ^ "Nervilia". Flora of China. Retrieved 15 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Nervilia". Flora of Pakistan. Retrieved 15 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Gaudichaud-Beaupré, Charles (1826). Voyage autour du monde. Paris. pp. 421–422. Retrieved 15 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 555.
  11. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC world dictionary of plant names: common names, scientific names, eponyms and etymology. Boca Raton, Florida USA: CRC Press. p. 1814. ISBN 0849326737.
  12. ^ Chase, Mark W.; Cameron, Kenneth M.; Freudenstein, John V.; Pridgeon, Alec M.; Salazar, Gerardo; van den Berg, Cássio; Schuiteman, André (2015). "An updated classification of Orchidaceae". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 177 (2): 151–174. doi:10.1111/boj.12234. ISSN 0024-4074.
  13. ^ Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "Nervilia". World Checklist of Orchidaceae.

External linksEdit