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Genus Rhizanthella Family Orchidaceae

Description: Saprophytic herbs, almost entirely subterranean, with only the flowers, fruit and involucral bracts emerging above the soil surface, sympodial; roots absent; [tuberoids sometimes present].

Leaves scale-like, cauline and forming an involucre below the inflorescence.

Inflorescence a dense terminal capitulum; flowers not resupinate. Sepals and lateral petals forming a short, curved, hood-like tube. Dorsal sepal basally fused to, and shorter than, lateral sepals. Lateral sepals basally fused. Lateral petals fused basally to column, slightly shorter than dorsal sepal. Labellum hinged to column foot, not lobed, densely [or sparsely] papillose. Column lacking free filament and style; column wings fused to column, expansive in upper half as narrow-triangular (ear-like) lobes. Column foot vestigial. Anther erect, parallel to the axis of the column, persistent. Pollinia 2, granular. Stigma entire. Rostellum not prominent, ventral.

Fruit a reddish berry. Seeds crustose, not winged.


Distribution and occurrence: World: 2 species, endemic Australia. Australia: Qld, N.S.W., W.A.

This species is often placed in its own genus, Cryptanthemis.

Text by P. H. Weston
Taxon concept:

One species in NSW: Rhizanthella slateri

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