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A terrestrial orchid from tropical and subtropical America, Epidendrum radicans is often seen on roadsides or in grassland, clambering over vegetation. Its spectacular bright orange and yellow flowers are appreciated by some orchid enthusiasts. However, the plant is too vigorous for most collections and would soon take up too large a space.

Epidendrum radicans

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Nativa en Colombia; Alt. 1000 - 2400 m.; Andes, Valle del Cauca.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba, epífita
Conservation
No Evaluada

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

A terrestrial orchid from tropical and subtropical America, Epidendrum radicans is often seen on roadsides or in grassland, clambering over vegetation. Its spectacular bright orange and yellow flowers are appreciated by some orchid enthusiasts. However, the plant is too vigorous for most collections and would soon take up too large a space.

The flowers of E. radicans are superficially similar to those of two common plants (Asclepias curassavicia and Lantana camara) that often grow alongside it. This led some to believe that E. radicans, which does not produce nectar, had evolved as a mimic of the others, which do. However, research by Bierzychudek in 1981 did not support this hypothesis.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Epidendrum radicans is native to southern Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia.

Widely cultivated as an ornamental, E. radicans has become naturalised in some parts of Africa, Asia and Australia, predominantly on disturbed sites.

Description

Overview: Sympodial (producing each new growth from the base of the old growth) orchid with long, cane-like stems, each with a terminal inflorescence.

Stems & leaves: Stems up to 100 cm long and 1 cm in diameter. Oval, fleshy leaves set at regular intervals along the stem. Conspicuous, white, fleshy, aerial roots emerge from the leaf axils of new growth and aid entanglement with supporting vegetation.

Flowers: Clusters of 20-30 individual flowers are held at the end of a long stalk, the whole inflorescence being up to 50 cm long.

Flowers are small and bright orange with a yellow column. They have ovate sepals and petals, and the lip is three-lobed. Each lobe is fringed and usually a lighter orange than the tepals, fading to yellow at the base of the lip.

The column (fused male and female parts) and lip are fused together, forming a single structure. Flowers are pollinated by butterflies, the proboscis of which can fit into the resulting narrow tube.

Uses

Epidendrum radicans is cultivated as an ornamental (as a garden plant in tropical regions and pot-plant elsewhere) and is also grown for cut-flowers.

It is only rarely used for producing hybrids due to its vigorous nature and because its stems tend not to be self-supporting.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

A collection of Epidendrum radicans seeds is held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

Cultivation

Epidendrum radicans should be kept at a temperature of 21-28°C, with a winter minimum of 12°C. It can be grown in an open medium (such as bark chips or charcoal) or as an epiphyte, for example by attaching a cutting to cork bark.

Due to its vigorous nature it is impractical to grow E. radicans among other plants unless support is provided and stems are regularly tied-in. The growing medium should be kept moist, without allowing the plant to sit in water (which can rot stems and roots). Weak fertiliser should be applied (usually a quarter of the stated dose for general plant fertilisers).

This species at Kew

Epidendrum radicans is grown in the behind-the-scenes Tropical Nursery at Kew.

Dried and alcohol-preserved specimens of Epidendrum radicans are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to visitors from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

Distribution
Costa Rica, Mexico
Ecology
Upland areas, often on roadsides or near disturbed ground.
Conservation
Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

None known.

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental.

Native to:

Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panamá, Venezuela

Introduced into:

Cuba, Puerto Rico

English
Ground-rooting epidendrum

Epidendrum radicans Pav. ex Lindl. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Aug 13, 2005 K001444841
Aug 13, 2005 K001444842
18391.000
Burns, M., Congo, DRC 20217.000
Hartweg [s.n.], Mexico K000079630
Bateman [s.n.], Mexico K000079631
Mexico K000079632
s.coll. [s.n.] 78137.000
K001444838
K001444839
K001444840
K001444843
K001444844
K001444845
K001444846
Colombia K001444847
Colombia K001444848
K001444849
K001444850
K001444851
K001444852
K001444853
K001444854
K001444855

First published in Gen. Sp. Orchid. Pl.: 104 (1831)

Accepted by

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-71827. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hammel, B.E. & al. (2003). Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica 3: 1-884. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
  • Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., Ortiz, R.D.C., Callejas Posada, R. & Merello, M. (eds.) (2011). Flora de Antioquia: Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares 2: 1-939. Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín.
  • Kolanowska, M., Hágsater, E., Szlachetko, D.L., Santiago Aala, E. & Sánchez, Saldaña, L. (2014). Orchids of the department of Valle del Cauca (Colombia) 2: 1-393. Koeltz Scientific Books.
  • Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008). Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas: 1-1576. SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Literature

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • ColPlantA (2021). "ColPlantA. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.colplanta.org/"

Kew Species Profiles

  • Bierzychudek, P. (1981). Asclepias, Lantana and Epidendrum: a floral mimicry complex? Biotropica 13: 54–58.
  • Hagsater, E. et al. (2005). Orchids of Mexico. Instituto Chinoin, Mexico City.
  • United States Department of Agriculture GRIN (2012). Epidendrum radicans.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444848
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444838
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444849
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444846
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444847
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444839
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444840
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444851
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444841
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444852
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444850
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444844
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444855
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444845
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444842
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444853
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444843
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew K001444854

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0