Orchids Wiki

Pleione hookeriana plate.jpg
Pleione hookeriana plate from
Lindenia Iconographie des Orchidées

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Tribe: Coelogyneae
SubTribe: Coelogyninae
Genus: Pleione
D. Don 1825
Type Species
Pleione humilis & Pleione praecox

Pleione are a small group of beautiful, predominantly terrestrial but sometimes epiphytic or lithophytic, miniature orchids. This genus is named after Pleione, mother of the Pleiades (in Greek mythology) and comprises about 20 species.


They are distributed in the mountains and foothills of Himalaya, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China and are well adapted to cold temperatures and even frost. A few, however, prefer warmer temperatures. They grow in well-drained habitats and on rocks covered with moss at altitudes between 600 and 4200 meters.[1] They grow on bare tree branches, mossy branches, fallen logs, soil pockets on cliff faces, moss covered rocks and in grasslands.[1]


The sympodial growth habit of terrestrial Pleione orchids is unusual. They have relatively large, spongy, almost globular or ampulliform pseudobulbs, narrowed at the apex. Every pseudobulb is only active for one year and carries one or two pleated parallel-veined leaves, with a length of 15-30 cm. These drop off before winter. The pseudobulb stays dormant, till a new one starts to develop. This one produces new roots and a short pedicel. This pseudobulb remains active till the end of the bloom. Then the whole cycle starts all over again.

The inflorescence emerges from the apex of the new shoot in the spring or fall. [1] The big, showy flowers originate from new shoots formed at the base of the pseudobulb. They are pink to purplish, white or yellow, while the fringed, tubular lip is often paler or white, with yellow, red or purple dots and stripes. Plants are pollinated by a species of bumble bee. [1]

The basic chromasome number in this genus is generally n=20, with the exception of species relating to Pleione bulbocodiodes.[1]


Plant goes dormant in the late fall to early spring. Pot plants in a mix of bark and sphagnum moss, or in 50% peat and 50% perlite. Mix should retain moisture and should be well drained. They are best kept in shallow pans. Plants should be watered constantly during growing season. Stop watering when leaves drop. Plant should be misted lightly and potting media should be kept dried during dormancy in the fall. During the winter keep temperatures low for at least one to two weeks. A general rule is to not over water in the spring when new roots are developing.[1] The media should be kept slightly moist so that the new roots can search for moisture. [1] Keep plant cool from 16° to 75°F during growing season and cold during dormancy form 50° to 25°F. Grow in diffused light and fertilize at half strength during summer. Plants should be fertilized regularly when roots develop.


Common names of this genus include glory of the East, Himalayan crocus, Indian crocus, Peacock orchid, and windowsill orchid.


  1. Gomphostylis Wall ex Lindley 1836[1837]


The genus was established by David Don in 1825 based on Pleione praecox and Pleione humilis, which were previously described by Sir James Smith as Epidendrum species. [1]

Authors such as Lindley, Reichenbach and Hooker did not follow don but placed Pleione as a section of the genus Coelogyne.[1] The genus was resurrected by Rolfe in 1903, noting differences such as a different lip and deciduous leaves.[1]

Currently, there are two sections in the genus Pleione which were divided by their leave number and flowering times.[1]

  • section Pleione (includes the autumn-flowered species) : P. x lagenaria, P. maculata, P. praecox, and P. saxicola.
  • section Humiles (includes the spring-flowering species) : P. albiflora, P. bulbocodioides, P. chunii, P. x confusa, P. coronaria, P. formosana, P. forrestii,¨P. grandiflora, P. hookeriana, P. praecox, P. x kohlsii, P. limprichtii, P. pleionoides, P. scopulorum, P. yunnanensis.


Natural Hybrids[]

  • Pleione × christianii (P. yunnanensis × P. forrestii) (China - W. Yunnan).
  • Pleione × confusa (P. albiflora × P. forrestii) (China - W. Yunnan).
  • Pleione × kohlsii (P. aurita × P. forrestii) (China - W. Yunnan).
  • Pleione × lagenaria (P. maculata × P. praecox).(Assam to China - W. Yunnan).
  • Pleione × taliensis (P. bulbocodioides × P. yunnanensis) (China - W. Yunnan).

the parentage of P x christianii is yunnanensis x forrestii and not bulbocodiodes x forrestii as has been wrongly quoted (P. Christian)


PDF icon.pngHumiles, a new section of Pleione

PDF icon.pngPleione flora of China


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Cribb, Phillip, and Ian Butterfield (1988). The Genus Pleione (Timber Press). 
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  • C. Z. Tang & I. Butterfield. 1983. The genus Pleione. Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 184: 93--147.