Habenaria Willdenow (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Habenaria Willdenow

Family: Orchidaceae

Major species and synonyms

  • Habenaria multipartita Blume ex Kränzlin.
  • Habenaria rumphii (Brongniart) Lindley, synonyms: Platanthera rumphii Brongniart, Habenaria stauroglossa Kränzlin, H. dahliana Kränzlin.

Vernacular names

  • H. multipartita : Indonesia: uwi-uwi (Javanese).


Habenaria comprises 600-800 species, occurring in all continents (except Antarctica). H. multipartita is only known from Java (Indonesia). H. rumphii is widespread all over South-East Asia but seems to be absent from Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra.


Although many Habenaria species have tuberous roots, only the 2 mentioned here are known to be used as food. In times of emergency many more tuberous orchid species could provide food.

All Habenaria species have ornamental value. H. multipartita has fragrant flowers that have an especially strong scent during the first part of the night.


Erect, simple, terrestrial herbs, with tuberous roots or with a rhizome. Leaves not articulate, convolutive, acute, herbaceous. Flowers in a terminal erect raceme or spike; petals entire or 2-partite; lip spurred, 3-lobed or 3-partite; lateral lobes often divided into narrow segments along the outer margin; column very short, with a tubercular outgrowth on either side of the anther; anther erect, pollinia 2; rostellum usually small; stigmas 2.

  • H. multipartita : 40-60 cm tall; roots tuberous; leaves 6-7, linear-lanceolate, 14-30 cm × 1.5-2.5 cm; raceme up to 18 cm long with many large, green, scented flowers. It occurs in sunny to slightly shaded, grassy locations, at 1300-2500 m altitude.
  • H. rumphii : 20-70 cm tall; tubers terete, up to 4 cm long, 0.5 cm in diameter; leaves about 4, linear apiculate, 7-15.5 cm × 8-10 mm; raceme 3-6 cm long, with many white (seldom yellow or purplish) flowers. It is very variable, occurring in grassy vegetations up to 400 m altitude.

Selected sources

3, 7, 32, 46, 47, 49, 77.


L.E. Groen, J.S. Siemonsma & P.C.M. Jansen