Habit and leaf form. Herbs (flowering in greater profusion after summer fire). Plants succulent, or non-succulent. Perennial. Leaves basal. Tuberous (tubers with a multi-layered covering sheath, replacing themselves within the same cavity each year, instead of forming external droppers). Helophytic, or mesophytic. Leaves small to medium-sized; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or fleshy; petiolate; simple. Leaf blades entire; flat; linear to ovate; parallel-veined; cross-venulate, or without cross-venules. Leaf blade margins entire. Vernation conduplicate. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present (hairs without enlarged basal cell). Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Entomophilous (small native bees and beetles). Pollination mechanism conspicuously specialized.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (occasionally). Inflorescence few-flowered (2–3-flowered). Inflorescences terminal. Flowers small to large; fragrant; very irregular; zygomorphic; resupinate. The floral asymmetry involving the perianth and involving the androecium. Flowers 3 merous; cyclic; supposedly basically pentacyclic. Perigone tube absent. Perianth of ‘tepals’, or with distinct calyx and corolla; 6, or 5 (by misinterpretation); 2 -whorled, or 1 -whorled (by misinterpretation); isomerous (but zygomorphic); free; petaloid; blue to purple (usually), or white to yellow (in C. ixioides). Calyx (if the outer whorl be so designated) 3 (the median member ostensibly posterior); 1 -whorled; polysepalous. Corolla (i.e. the members of the inner whorl) 3, or 5 (by misinterpretation); polypetalous; imbricate. Androecium 3, or 1 (by misinterpretation). Androecial members free of the perianth; united with the gynoecium (fused with the style to form a column or ‘gynostemium’); coherent (via the gynostemium); 1 - adelphous; theoretically 2 -whorled. Androecium including staminodes, or exclusively of fertile stamens (by misinterpretation). Staminodes 2 (these anterior (ostensibly posterior), supposedly the abaxial pair of the inner whorl). Stamens 1 (this across the flower from the labellum, i.e. anterior but ostensibly posterior, supposedly representing the outer whorl); reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth; alterniperianthial (i.e. with reference to the single stamen, across the flower from the labellum); filantherous, or with sessile anthers. Anthers dorsifixed to basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate; appendaged, or unappendaged. Pollen shed in aggregates; in the form of pollinia. Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; inferior. Ovary unilocular; 1 locular. The ‘odd’ carpel anterior (away from the labellum). Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1 (inflexed); apical. Stigmas 1; 3 - lobed (but becoming much modified in form, the apex of the median lobe forming the ‘rostellum’); wet type; papillate; Group III type. Placentation parietal. Ovules not differentiated; in the single cavity 30–100 (i.e. very numerous); non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules septicidal, or loculicidal. Fruit 30–500 seeded (i.e. seeds usually very numerous). Seeds endospermic (endosperm development arrested very early), or non-endospermic; minute; without starch. Embryo rudimentary at the time of seed release, or weakly differentiated. Seedling. Seedling collar not conspicuous. Primary root ephemeral.
Geography, cytology, number of species. Native of Australia. Endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania. South-West Botanical Province.
Additional characters Perianth of 5 similar members and the median inner member modified into the labellum (sepals and lateral petals of similar shape and colour; adaxial sepal erect, other perianth members deflexed or spreading; labellum lobed, column-embracing or not). Leaves solitary. Column prominently winged. Labellum not insect-like. Perianth not glossy. Labellum with calli (calli in 2-numerous rows). Hairs without an enlarged basal cell.