1.a Cymbidium

This, the type sub genus, comprises six sections. They are all characterized by having rather small relatively simple flowers. There is considerable variation within this sub genus with regard to the leaf morphology and anatomy, and in the structure of the callus.

The first section Cymbidium, was established by Hunt in 1970, containing species which are distinguished by their thick, often rigid leaves. the flower racemes are usually pendulous to arching, the scapes with well spaced flowers, which are typically cream to greenish with red or brownish markings.

l. a. I Cym aloifolium (L) Swartz

Epidendrum aloifolium
Epidendrum aloides
Cym pendulum
Aerides borasii
Cym erectum
Cym simulans
Cym intermedium

This was the first species of Cymbidium known in Europe, and is the type of the genus. Described by the great botanist Linnaeus in 1753, this was based on an illustration of an Indian plant made by Rheede at the end of the seventeenth century, and which had been published in 1703. As noted by the number of synonyms, there is some confusion regarding the correct identification of this species.

This is a medium sized species, the pseudobulbs usually strongly inflated 60 to 90 mm x 30-40 mm. The 4-5 leaves are strongly coriacaeous (leathery), rigid or arching, to 40-180 mm long. The scape is 300 to 700 mm long, strongly pendulous, bearing typically 20 to 45 flowers. The individual flowers are 35 to 42 mm across, lightly scented, sepals and petals pale yellow to cream with a broad central maroon-brown stripe, often with darker streaks. The lip is white or cream coloured. 

 This species is distributed from Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands, India, Sikkim, Nepal, Bangladesh, South China, Hong Kong, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, West Malaysia and Java. It is found in the forks and hollows of large branches and tree trunks usually in open forest where partial shade is provided by the leaf canopy. This species, and that following, often grow in rotting wood, and will form large clumps on dead trees where their extensive root systems grow into the rotting wood. Their roots form a dense spongy mass, and this species may also produce short slender erect aerial roots that trap leaves and other leaf detritus. It flowers early to late spring.

This species and Cym bicolor occur over much of their range, but are noted not to hybridise, probably because they have slightly different flowering seasons. They also grow over different altitudinal ranges, which maintains genetic separation. In Thailand this species grows at a slightly higher altitude in the deciduous hill forests rather than the evergreen lowland forest typical for Cym bicolor, but with this reversed in the Himalayas.

l. a. II Cymbidium bicolor Lindley

This species was first described in 1835. Again a medium sized species, producing pseudobulbs up to 50 x 25 mm., the 5-7 leaves are 300 mm long, cartilaginous, stiff and arching, 30 to 120 mm long. The flower scape is 100 to 500 mm long, arching to pendulous, bearing 5 to 26 flowers. The flowers are 25 to 45 mm across, lightly fruit scented. The sepals and petals are pale yellow to cream, with a broad weakly defined central stripe of maroon-brown. The lip is white or cream with a pale yellow patch at the base. It is distributed from Sri Lanka, India, South China, Indochina, West Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Sabah, Celebes, and the Philippines. Its natural habitat is similar to that of the previous species.

There are three subspecies listed - bicolor, pubescens, and obtusum.

Subspecies bicolor is characterised by an arching scape, a rather long pedicel and ovary, a long slender dorsal sepal that exceeds the petals by 4-6 5 mm, giving the flowers a spidery appearance. This is found in Sri Lanka and South India, being first described in 1833.

Cym bicolor subsp. obtusum

Synonyms include
Cym crassifolium
Cym mannii
Cym pendulum
Cym flaccidum

This subspecies often has rather broad leaves, up to 25-30 mm wide. The scape is often longer than in the other subspecies, and varies from arching to pendulous. The petals are spreading, and the mid lobe is papillose or weakly hairy, especially at the tips of the side lobe. Native of Nepal, North India, Sikkim, Assam, Bhutan, South West China. Burma and Indochina

Cym bicolor subsp, pubescens

Cym aloifolium
Cym pubescens
Cym aloifolium var. pubescens
Cym pubescens var. celebicum
Cym celebicum

This species typically has narrow leaves, rarely more than 20 mm broad. It has a sharply pendulous, often rather short, few flowered scape. The peals of the flowers are usually somewhat spreading. The lip is cream, mottled with maroon on the side lobes, and spotted and blotched with maroon or red-brown on the mid -lobe that is yellow towards the base. Native of West Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and the Philippines.

l. a. III Cym rectum Ridley

First formally described in 1920, this species was known as early as 1902, as the plant had been in cultivation in the Singapore Botanic Garden for a number of years. It had been known in the gardens as Cym 'erectum' although this name had already been used for another species. The name refers to the upright growing scape, an unusual characteristic for plants from this section. The species was lost to cultivation for a number of years, until it was rediscovered in Sabah, first flowering again in 1984.

It is a medium sized plant whose pseudo-bulbs are about 50 x 20 mm, the 7 to 9 leaves per pseudo-bulb grow up to 600 mm long, with a strong a 'V' shape in cross section, strongly coriacaeous, very stiff and arching. The scape grows up to 400 mm long somewhat erect or horizontal, often pendulous in fruit, with up to 17 flowers. The individual flowers are 30 to 40 mm across, lightly fruit scented. The sepals and petals are pale yellow or cream, with a broad central stripe of maroon-brown extending to the tip. The lip is white with a pale yellow patch at the base.

This species is native of Sabah, West Malaysia, growing at an altitude between 450 to 500 metres, sometimes extending to 800 metres. It naturally grows as an epiphyte in Baeckia frutescens forest, on poor soils, usually seen on small stunted trees less than six metres from the ground. It receives only light shade, and the root system is full of biting ants that feed on the nectar exuded behind the sepals and the base of the pedicel. In return, the ants protect the flowers from herbivorous insects.

l. a. IV Cym finlaysonianum Lindley

Cym pendulum
Cym wallichii
Cym tricolor
Cym, pendulum var. brevilabre

First described in 1833, the original specimens were first collected by Finlayson in Vietnam, probably at Da Nang (known as Tourane Bay). As noted above, it has had other names at various times.

This is a very large plant, which grows either as an epiphyte or lithophyte. Valmayor notes it forms very large clumps in the Philippines. Its pseudobulbs are up to 80 x 50 mm. The 4 to 7 leaves per pseudobulb are usually 500 to 850 mm long, very coriacaeous and rigid, almost erect. The flower scape is 300 to 1150 mm long, sharply pendulous, bearing 12 to 26 well spaced flowers. The flowers are 40 to 57 mm across, usually weakly fruit scented. The tepals are dull green to straw yellow, usually suffused with red-brown, especially towards the tips of the sepals and along the centre of the petals. The lip is white, the side lobes suffused and strongly veined with purple-red, the mid lobe yellow in front of the callus, with a large "U" spaed purple red blotch towards the apex, and often with some other reddish spotting.

Native of South Vietnam, Cambodia, South Thailand, West Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sabah, the Philippines and Sulawesi, it is usually found from sea level up to 300 metres altitude. It prefers trees in open lowland forest or secondary forest, usually near the coast, or on exposed. Coastal rocks sometimes colonising rubber, palm and other lowland tree crops. It flowers all year, with some seasonality in culture mid summer DO early autumn. ).

it is closely related to Cym atropurpureum, but is more summon and has a wider natural distribution, Because it is a lowland species, is more commonly en-counted than most other of the tropical cymbidium species. Its ability to from enormous clumps makes it a conspicuous plant. Its ability to survive in open forests has made it a common coloniser of secondary forest.

l. a. V Cym atropurpureum (Lindley) Rolfe

Cym pendulum var. atropurpureum
Cym pendulum var. purpureum
Cym finlaysonianum var. atropurpureum
Cym atropurpureum var. olivaceum

Lindley first described this species as a variety of Cym pendulum. in 1854. As applies with other members of this group, a number of names have been applied by a number of different authors.

It is a large epiphyte or rarely lithophyte, with pseudobulbs up to 100 tall, x 60 mm. The 7 to 9 leaves are 500 to 900 mm long, coriacaeous, rather rigid, arching. The scape is 280 to 750 mm long, arching to strongly pendulous producing 10 to 33 flowers. The 35 to 45 mm diameter flowers are usually strongly coconut scented. The sepals are a deep maroon to dull yellow-green with strong maroon staining, the lip is white becoming yellow with age.

Distributed from South Thailand, West Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and the Philippines, it grows over an altitude range of sea level to 2200  metres above sea level. It grows in the forks of forest trees and occasionally on rocks, usually in lowland forests and often near the sea. It flowers during early to late spring, although flowering at other times appears to be relatively common.

At is regarded as a variable species

Site established 9th May 1998