Genus Cyrtosia

Cyrtosia Blume,
Bijdr. (1825) 396

Leafless and stemless sympodial terrestrial plants with an underground rhizome and without chlorophyll. Inflorescence a raceme or a panicle. Flowers small, not resupinate, fleshy, yellowish. Sepals free, outside usually with mealy-papillose surface. Lip without spur, not mobile, entire. Column-foot absent. Pollen united into a soft mealy mass; caudicles, stipe, or viscidium absent. Fruit fleshy, not opening when ripe, seeds not winged.

Sri Lanka, NE India, ?Burma, Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea. About 5 species.

Distribution in the Philippines
Luzon (Cagayan); one as yet unidentified species, probably Cyrtosia javanica Blume.

Terrestrial in hill and montane forest.

Cyrtosia javanica was reported from the Philippines as early as 1880 by Náves. However, this record was ignored by subsequent workers on Philippine orchids, probably because the work of Náves is riddled with misidentifications and because later collectors in the Philippines did not encounter any species of Cyrtosia. Only recently the occurrence of Cyrtosia in the Philippines was substantiated when Leonardo Co photographed a species of this genus in Luzon. We have not yet been able to examine his specimen, which may well turn out to be the widespread C. javanica Blume.
Like the related genus Galeola, Cyrtosia is a leafless terrestrial orchid without chlorophyll (or at least so little chlorophyll that it is not noticeable). Cyrtosia differs from Galeola by its much shorter, erect, not climbing inflorescences, the fleshy, not dehiscing fruits and not winged seeds. It has been suggested that the fruits of Cyrtosia, which turn red when ripe, are eaten by animals. This would imply that unlike most other orchids the seeds are not dispersed by wind.