Cycnoches (sik-NO-keys) is an epiphytic genus of sympodial orchids that are usually found in warm, moist, open canopy tropical trees. The altitude can range up to 1500 meters depending on the latitude of the location. Pseudobulbs are spindle-shaped with multiple nodes and three to seven pairs of thin, veined leaves. The pendulous inflorescences arise from the upper nodes of the pseudobulb.
Cycnoches, like orchids of its sister genus Catasetum, are unique among orchids in that they bear separate male and female flowers with the occasional appearance of intermediate, hermaphroditic forms. The column structure is the surest method of determining the sex of flowers. The male column is long, curved, and thin. It bears the pollinia prominently at the tip. The female column is relatively short and bearing curved hook-like structures on each side of the tip. The stigma of the female column is found inside the tip of the column. There are two different forms of male flowers among the cycnoches.
One group, the section Cycnoches, bears male and female flowers that closely resemble each other except for the column structure. The section Heteranthae bears male flowers that are radically different from the female flowers. The female flowers of section Heteranthae resemble the female flowers of section Cycnoches except that they are normally smaller. The male flowers of section Heteranthae are small with a disk-shaped lip that has from 5 to 14 projections or “fingers” on it. Cycnoches are very fragrant with a generally complex chemical structure that distinguishes the species to their pollinators among the Euglossine bees. Like the other members of the Catasetinae, cycnoches can produce new growths from almost any of the nodes of the pseudobulb. Cycnoches are seasonal growers. The new growths are produced and rapidly develop to maturity in about six months when they produce their flowers. After flowering, the leaves are frequently dropped and a dry rest period follows before new growth starts again.
The genus name comes from two Greek words that mean swan and neck. The type species is C. loddigesii described in 1832 by John Lindley. In addition to this species, other popular species areCycnoches chlorochilon, C. haagii, C. pentadactylon, C. barthiorum.
Number of species: Currently 8 in section Cycnoches, 25-28 in section Heteranthae with one subspecies. The World Monocot Checklist currently contains 39 accepted names (July 2009)
Distribution: Tropical America from southern Mexico to southern Brazil and Bolivia.
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Excerpt Reprinted from AOS.org