Microtis R.Br.
Prodr.Fl.Nov.Holland. 320 (1810)

Name Status: Current
Browse to the list of specimens for Microtis R.Br.

Scientific Description
H.R. Coleman, Thursday 8 September 2016

Family Orchidaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs; deciduous. Plants succulent. Perennial. Leaves basal (sheathing for some distance above the ground). Tuberous (tuber rounded). Helophytic, or mesophytic. Leaves medium-sized to very large (usually nearly equal to the length of the visible portion of the stem); fleshy; petiolate; simple. Leaf blades entire; solid; terete (hollow); linear; parallel-veined; cross-venulate, or without cross-venules. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Entomophilous (ants, beetles, small ichneumon wasps), or pollinated by unusual means (facultatively self-pollinating, some species apomictic). Pollination mechanism conspicuously specialized.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. Inflorescence many-flowered. Flowers in racemes (spike-like, often dense), or in spikes (by misinterpretation). The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences scapiflorous, or not scapiflorous; terminal; stem bracts absent. Flowers minute to small; 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; 2 -whorled; isomerous (but zygomorphic); free; green, or yellow to green, or white. 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; 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’; column very short, with 2 small auricles behind the stigma); 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 (pollinia 2 or 4?). 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. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. South-West Botanical Province.

Additional characters Perianth of 5 dissimilar members and the median inner member modified into the labellum (adaxial sepal hooded, broad; lateral sepals as long as or shorter than the adaxial sepal but narrower, often inrolled; labellum sessile, tongue-like, simple and flap-like or with irregular margins and a large, compressed callus). Leaves solitary. Leaves erect. Column prominently winged. Perianth not glossy.

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine (2002). Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 1, introduction, keys, ferns to monocotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study. Canberra.
  • Hopper, Stephen D.; Brown, Andrew P. (2001). Contributions to Western Australian orchidology. 1, history of early collections, taxonomic concepts and key to genera [electronic resource].
  • Bates, R. J. (1996). Arid land Microtis (Orchidaceae) in Western Australia with the description of three new taxa.
  • Brown, Andrew; Hoffman, Noel (1995). Orchids of south-west Australia. University of W.A. Press. Nedlands, W.A.
  • Bates, R. (1990). Notes on the genus Microtis (Orchidaceae) in Western Australia with the description of two new taxa.