Asher (5) records that this group of species, together with those in the following group, the Subgenus Brachypetalum, is characterised by a pouch without ears on either side, and with its edge turned in all around. The foliage is very short and tessellated - i.e. mottled dark and light green. Koopowitz and Hasegawa (88) state the name parvisepalum alludes to the small narrow dorsal sepal found on the flowers. It has been suggested that these species, because of their characteristics, may be the missing link between paphiopedilums and cypripidiums.

5 species are included:-


P. delenatii Guillaumin
P. armeniacum Chen & Liu
P. micranthum Tang & Wang
P. malipoense Chen the Tsi
P. emersonii Koopowitz and Cribb
P. hangianum Perner and Gruss
P. jackii Hua
P. jackii var. hiepii (Averyanov) Koop
P. vietnamense Perner and Gruss
Also P. huonglanae


Cribb (105) places these species in his Subgenus Brachypetalum, Section Parvisepalum.


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These distinctive plants are rare in nature. Birk (3) and Koopowitz and Hasegawa (6) note that all the plants of Paphiopedlium delenatii in cultivation are said to have derived from a single plant collected in Vietnam and described in 1926. They state there where only two plants in the original collection. One was sent to the British Museum (Kew?) and the other to the French nursery of Vacherot et Lecoufle. They were able to successfully self one of the surviving plants from the earlier collection, and for many years progeny from that selfing were the only plants available for cultivation. 105

The British plant died, and all the plants up to the mid 1990’s derived from the French specimen. Interestingly, it is said that the British plant was the more beautiful, so one can only wonder what we are all missing. Bechtel Cribb and Launert (8) in the Manual of Cultivated Orchid Species, record that P. delenatii was first collected in 1913 in Tonkin, and introduced into Europe by LM. Delenat. They also record that a second site was discovered in Central Vietnam in 1922. They record the distribution of this plant as being North and Central Vietnam and Thailand Whatever is the correct version, it still remains a rare species. Fortunately it propagates from seed, ensuring its distribution amongst orchid growers. There have been new collections made in the Yunnan Province of China.(88) with the effect that ity is no longer classified as being rare.


P. delenatii is described as being a terrestrial plant growing up to 250 mm tall. The leaves are typically 130 mm long and 50 mm wide, light green, mottled and veined dark green, purple spotted underneath. The inflorescence is up to 200 mm tall, and is 1 to 2 flowered. The flowers are up to 80 mm across. The dorsal sepal is white, faintly tinged with pink. The petals are white, also tinged pink. (8) Koopowitz discusses 152 its reintroduction from the wild, fragrance and potential for hybridisation. He notes it requires a drop in evening temperatures during the summertime to grow and flower successfully.


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In 1979,122 in the Yunnan Province of China, a new species was discovered, named Paphiopedilum armeniacum in 1982. The Chinese name Hsin Wang Dou Lan literally means ‘Golden Slipper Orchid’ It is described by Mark 122 as being an easily grown orchid naturally found in nature growing as a lithophyte among rocks on mountains in semi shaded forest. He notes they appreciate cool humid conditions to grow well. Flowering freely when in bright conditions and subjected to cold night temperatures It is found at the extreme western and south western area of the Yunnan Province border area.

The main difference between this and the previous species is their colour - P. delenatii is pink while that of P. armeniacum is a very bright sulphur yellow. The staminode is also distinct. With P. delenatii the growths form direct from the crown, while those from P. armeniacum are formed by stoloniferous offshoots. Cribb 105 confirms the plant produces new shoots some distance from the parent plant at the end of a long rhizome, and this must be allowed for when repotting plants. Chromosome differences, together with the above details, have indicated that separate species rank is appropriate (6), although Cribb and Tang (7) state that the species are closely allied, and have suggested that P. armeniacum may only prove to be a colour variant of P. delenatii. Until such time as more plants become available, the true status of these plants will remain a matter for discussion amongst orchidists. P. armeniacum's name refers to apricots, although most flowers are lemon yellow to bright yellow.(88)

Fowlie 125 notes a variety lacking any red colouration var. Mark Fun

Fowlie 132 discusses the habitat and cultivation of this species as practiced by Aranda Nurseries in Brazil. He notes it is native of the headwaters of the Miking Rive in western Yunnan Province of South west China. The natural habitat during the winter is bright and sunny. Perner 153 provides detailed habitat information. He notes the Chinese name is ‘apricot yellow slipper orchid’ ‘Xing Huang Dou Lan’. It grows at an altitude of around 2000 metres in open forest, growing as a lithophyte protected by shrubs.


P. armeniacum has been highly awarded. When first displayed in the United States of America in 1983 it was awarded a FCC from the American Orchid Society. Six FCC's have been awarded in the USA, and a Gold Medal from the Cymbidium Society of America. The Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain also awarded a FCC to the first P. armeniacum presented to the award judges in that country. The fact that so many FCC's have been awarded in such a short time must say something about the spell that the flowers cast on those who see them. (88)


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This third species is again similar to P. delenatii. It was first described in 1951, although was found in 1940. It has leaves marbelled dark and pale green, spotted dark maroon on their underside. The solitary flower, borne on an erect, very hairy stalk, is large for the plant. It shows a large pink or pale yellow lip, and sepals and petals veined marron. It is apparently confined to a very small area of south east Yunnan, near the Vietnamese border, growing terrestrially at about 1400 metres altitude, in wet forests on shady stream banks. In view of the relatively large size of its flower, the name of this species does not appear appropriate, and it has been suggested that the type description was based on a malformed flower, or that the flower was still in bud. (7)

This is said to be a very much more variable species than the others of this group in terms of flower quality and colouration. Pouches on the f lower range in size up to 75 mm in diameter, their colours ranging from white to pink to a deep lavender-mauve. (88) It has been suggested that there may be two forms of this species, one with "enormous flowers and another with smaller blooms".(94)

The Chinese names are Shao Hua Dou Lan and Yan Ye Dou Lan – Silver Slipper Orchid in reference to the leaf form, and the white flowers. Also an easily grown species, ti is native terrestrial growing in mountains at some 1400 metres altitude in mixed forest on limestone. It grows as a lower altitude than Paphiopedilum malipoense. It is naturally winter to early spring flowering. Its habitat experiences cool winters with low temperatures – near freezing – and such conditions can be important for flower bud initiation. 122

Fowlie 136 discusses its Chinese Guizhou Plateau habitat. The area has beautiful limestone mountains, with rounded summits and semi-vertical cliffs joining them. Between the summits rounded throats funnel moisture laden air. The plants grew in dense shade under low forest, shallowly rooted in a soil rich in clay in water seepage areas. The area was subjected to cold dry winds during the winter monsoon, a period when it is bright and sunny. There can be significant quick diurnal temperature variations, and sucnh conditions may be important in triggering flowering. A plant growing in a small niche would soon fill up the space there, and they sent out stolons into adjoining niches where a new colony would be established. The plants grew only in areas where there was god air movement. The area receives a warm wet summer monsoon. Fowlie 150 discusses some varieties in other habitats.


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In 1984 Chen and Tsi described a fourth species of this section (89) although the specimens had been collected in 1947. This species is said to produce their tallest inflorescence of the group, in some cases being over 300 mm tall. It produces the largest flowers of the section, having a natural spread of approximately 90 mm. Flowers are basically pippin green to avocado green. The petals are slightly more elongated than the other species of this section. Petals are veined purple. The staminode is divided into two portions, an upper pure white, velvety part, and a lower very glossy and folded burgundy coloured section. (88) The flowers produce a powerful and delightful fragrance. 138

The Orchid Advocate (94) notes that because the type description of P. malipoense is initially incomplete, and that the early collections differed somewhat, it was thought there may therefore be different species. It notes that some have been sold in the United States as P. markii.

The Chinese name is Malipo Dou Lan meaning ‘pocket orchid from Malipo’ Described as an easily grown terrestrial orchid found in mountainous regions some 13 to 16 metres altitude in mixed forest in limestone derived mountains. This species grows at a higher altitude than Paphiopedilum micranthum. Mark notes 122 that a standard sized plant produces 5 to 6 large leaves reach 100 to 200 mm long and 25 to 40 mm broad. The flower scape is 300 to 400 mm tall bearing a single flower.

A habitat along the border of the Guizhou Plateau in western Guangxi Province of China has been described 138. There are small round top mountains with steep sides which join one with another. Between the peaks are saddles or throats through which moisture laden air flows. As is typical with limestone country there is significant benching or layers of material which have eroded at different rates. These are protected from the fires which commonly traverse the area. Bamboo and other vegetation provide protection from the sun. The areas are quite bright and airy. Paphiopedilum malipoense grows on these benches, especially facing the early morning sun. The small rivulets concentrate the water, especially during the dry winters. Winters are also cool, but windy, with significant diurnal temperature variation. Summers are warm and wet, with more shade provided by cloud cover and summer vegetation. The habitat lies some 300 to 600 metres above sea level. Winter moisture leaches solutions rich in phosphate and potash from the decomposing leaves from autumn. During the summer growth period the mosses harbour algae that fix nitrogen from the air are encouraged to grow in the bright sunshine, and rich nitrogenous solutions feet the roots during the monsoonal summer season. Fowlie’s article 138 provides significant further information.

The name ‘malipoense’ derives from the town Malipo in China, where the plants were collected. (94)


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This is the fifth species of this group, and the most recently discovered, (1985 126) and its introduction described in the American publication The Orchid Advocate. 93, 120. Again from China, it is distinctive in this group with the leaves lacking tessellation on the upper surfaces of its leaves, and the leaves are relatively longer than usually found on this group. Cribb 105 notes the flower is similar in shape and size with Brachypetalum species P. godefroyae and bellatulum, and has raised the issue of the necessity of reassessing the Brachypetalum and Parvisepalum sections.Koopowitz notes 153 that it is closely relatsed to P. hangianum, both having thick almost succulent leaves. Recent discoveries made in Vietnam were described as P. huonglannae. These populations appear to have longer leaves and somewhat larger flowers, but Koopowitz does not agree this warrents acceptance as a separate species.

Fowlie’s discussion 126 of the habitat of this species, introduces some interesting issues of limestone and climate. In an area on the south eastern margin of the Guizhou Plateau there are limestone gorges with 100 to 150 metre high escapements above the river. There are high buttresses rising some 750 metres, the steep slopes protecting the original forest. At an altitude of some 650 metres Paphiopedilum emersonii was growing in the moss, its roots imbedded in the concretion of clay sand and limestone material mixed with humus detritus. All plants faced the early morning sun, in such a way to be protected from the midday sun. They were subjected to a rainy season during spring and summer with a winter cool dry season. Cold winds in mid winter initiate flowers which appear October to December.- late spring to early summer

The species is named in honour of Emerson ‘Doc’ Charles, the well known Californian paphiopedilum grower who first flowered the p.lants in his collection in 1986. 105 Some information on "Doc" Charles has also been published in the Orchid Digest 119

P. huonglanae has recently been discussed , and this is considered a close relative to P. emersonii, but is from Viet Nam. This population is said to have longer leaves and perhaps larger flowers, but Koopowitz 153 does not currently believe it warrants acceptance as a descrete variety


Another newly discovered Vietnamese species. Its pale green flowers (like emersonii) are said to have a distinctive fragrance.153


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Origninally thought to be only a viariety of malipoense but Koiopowitz 153 now consideres it is a valid species. Its staminode is different from that speices, and has its own distictive fragrance, markedly differed from the 'raspberry' fragrance found in malipoense. There are several deiscrete poplluations of this species. .


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Koopowitz notes tht status fo this plant is uncertain. There is some concern that the type specimen represents an aberrant blossom. A recent importation fo plants labelled this species all turned out to be P. jackii. 153


This is considered one of the m ost desirable of the newly discovered species.It has large pink flowers and big glossy tessellated leaves. It is said thats the first two lsites where this was found have been entirely stripped of plants. 153 It is also known under the names P. hilmarii and P. mirabile


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P. delenatii was included with the BRACHYPETALUM paphiopedilums in the Pfitzer classification. They are all warm growing species, which do require a higher level of care and attention than is generally necessary for most paphs. The culture as discussed in the next section - the brachypetalum - is appropriate. Some people have difficulty in maintaining P. delenatii in growth, and the culture of this species in pure live sphagnum moss can be most effective. Never let salts build up in the potting mix, as the plants are very intolerant of such conditions should this ever be allowed to occur.

Koopowitz and Hasegawa note that the species included in this section are easier to grow than the brachypetalum species, being not as prone to rot. They report that P. armeniacum and P. micranthum grow on riverbanks, which are presumably always moist. They can tolerate more water than the brachypetalum species discussed below. They also report that they seem tolerant of a wide variation in growing conditions, from those appropriate for phalaenopsis to miltoniopsis. It is said that the plants come from quite high altitudes, with P. armeniacum able to survive colder temperatures than P. micranthum. (88)

As the plants produce runners, which can emerge from the drainage holes of pots, must be considered in your culture. (88)

Schaffer in 1976 looked at the primary hybrids (crosses between two species) and the awards given to such crosses up to that date. For P. delenatii up to 1976, 7 primary crosses had been registered (1), but 4 of these had been showered with awards. P. bellatulum has won more awards (28 as compared with 15) than this species, and the cross of these two species - P. Vanda M. Pearman - would be sure to be a success, and has proven to be so. Many other P. delenatii crosses have, and are, being made.

Muir 116, in discussion the Chinese parvisepalum species. This group is not confined to this area, but many important species make their homes there. She notes there are three distinct habitat zones in this area in South East Asia. The relatively narrow coastal plain of Vietna m, rising abruptly to a mountainous plateau (Guizhou Plateau) an finally to the high mountains of western China, Tibet and India. The Guizhou Plateau is near the southern edge of the second step, extending across southern and western china, northern Vietnam, Laos, northern Thailand, Burma and into India. The area averages 1200 to 1800 metres altitude with individual mountain ranges extending to over 3000 metres. With such an altitude variation there are three climatic zones. The frigid mountainous zone extends above 3500 metres. The temperate zone extends down to around 2000 metres, and the subtropical zone down to 800 metres and relates to the HIGH ALTITUTDE TROPICAL HABITAT zone information on this site. The subtropical zone relates to the FOOTHILL MONSOON FOREST HABITAT with the TROPICAL LOWLAND RAINFOREXT HABITAT extending from sea level up to around 800 metres altitude. Major rivers in the region run in very deep gorges with the valley bottoms only "a few hundred feet above sea level". Mark 122 also discusses the habitats.

The Bakers 127 discuss the weather of the Guizhou Plateau in detail. This area equates to the Foothill Mountain monsoon habitat discussed elsewhere on this site. The major determinant of the weather patters is the large land mass. The winter monsoon in south east Asia produces relatively cold north easterly winds with limited rainfall. There are characteristically night and early morning fogs or low clouds, and humidity remains high. The summer monsoon is from the south east carrying warm moisture laden air, the mountains raising the air to produce thunderstorms and torrential downpours especially on the windward slopes. This information is worth reviewing.

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Site established 9th May 1998
Paphiopedilum series first uploaded 8th December 1999