(pronounced: sef-ah-LAN-ther-ah)


Neottieae subtribe Limodorinae


Terrestrials, rarely saprophytic, without tubers. Stems erect, leafy, unbranched. Leaves several, sessile, alternate, distichous, lanceolate. Inflorescences terminal racemes, the floral bracts small to large and foliaceous, when foliaceous grading with the leaves. Flowers cupped. Sepals and petals free, spreading, subsimilar. Lip three-lobed, usually saccate at the base, +/- spurred, the callus of parallel longitudinal keels. Column elongate, straight, erect, the anther stalked, flexible; pollinia 2, naked.


From the Greek kephale, meaning head, and anthera, meaning anther, referring to the conspicuous stalked head-like anther.


A genus of about 14 species in Eurasia with one species in North America.

Care and Culture Card

See basic growing conditions and care information below.


Borsos, O. 1959. Geobotanische monographie deer orchideen der Pannonischen und Karpatischen flora II. Cephalanthera. Ann. Univ. Sci. Budapest 2:59-93.

Chen, S.-C. 1965. A primitive new orchid genus Tangtsinia and its meaning in phylogeny. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 10(3):193-206.

Chen, S.-C. and K. Y. Lang 1986. Cephalanthera calcarata sp. n., a new saprophytic orchid from China. Acta Bot. Yunnan. 8(3):271-274.

Cribb, P. J. and S.-C. Chen 1997. The true identity of Cephalanthera yünnanensis Hand.-Mazz. (Orchidaceae). Lindleyana 12(1):16-18.

Dafni, A. and Y. Ivri 1981. The flower biology of Cephalanthera longifolia (Orchidaceae), pollen limitation and facultative floral mimicry. Plant Syst. Evol. 137:229-240.

Lee, W. B. and Y. S. Kim 1986. A taxonomic study on genus Cephalanthera in Korea. Korean J. Plant Taxon. 16:39-57.

Nilsson, L. A. 1983. Mimesis of bellflower (Campanula) by the red helleborine orchis Cephalanthera rubra. Nature 305(5937):###-###.

Schwarzacher, T. and D. Schweizer 1982. Karyotype analysis and heterochromatin differentiation with Giemsa C-banding and flourescent counterstaining in Cephalanthera (Orchidaceae). Plant Syst. Evolut. 141:91-113.

Tanaka, R. and M. Yokota 1982. Karyotype of Cephalanthera subaphylla, Orchidaceae. Chromosome Inf. Serv. 33:34-36.

Yang, D. Q. and X. F. Zhu 1989. Studies on karyotype of Cephalanthera erecta and C. falcata. Acta Phytotax. Sin. 27:114-117.