Type: Tapeinochilos ananassae
Plants medium to large rhizomatous herbs; rhizomes thick and fleshy, aerial shoots cane-like, up to 6 m tall, straight or slightly twisted, branching with spirally arranged branches emerging from upper nodes. Primary branches often emerge just below an inflorescence if inflorescence terminates a leafy stem. Leaves arranged spirally with closed sheaths; petioles very short, terminal leaves sessile; leaf blades obovate or elliptic; adaxial surface glabrous, abaxial surface glabrous or pubescent. Inflorescence a strobilacious spike, terminating a leafy stem or on a separate leafless shoot arising directly from the rhizome. Bracts coriaceous, woody, or sometimes herbaceous, each subtending a single flower, arranged into 13 straight or slightly curved orthostichies. Bractoles mostly absent. Flowers sessile. Calyx tubular at base, 3-lobed, lobes unequal with anterior lobe smaller than the two posterior lobes. Corolla fused at the base, 3-lobed, posterior lobe broader and longer than other two, imbricate in bud. Stamen 1, petaloid. Labellum 5-lobed, ovate or oblong, inconspicuous. Ovary bilocular. Septal nectaries present in upper part of ovary. Stigma bilamellate. Fruit a capsule, slightly fleshy, indehiscent or tardily dehiscent along slits. Seeds black, arillate.
Current diversity of Tapeinochilos is centered in New Guinea, with over 80% of the species found there. The range extends from Sula Islands of the Moluccas Archipelago through New Guinea, to Vanatu in the east and tropical Australia (Northern Queensland) in the south.
Phylogeny and Classification:
Tapeinochilos is sister to the newly described Cheilocostus, a clade of South East Asian Costaceae formerly of the genus Costus.
Sixteen species are currently recognized for Tapeinochilos, all of which form a monophyletic group within the family Costaceae.
Ecology and Pollination Biology:
Sunbirds native to New Guinea and Melanesia are thought to be at least partially responsible for the pollination of Tapeinochilos.
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