(pronounced: KLY-steez)


subtribe Pogoniinae, of unknown affinity. Cleistes, like Triphora, has been included in a broadly defined Pogonia and is still occasionally found in the synonymy of Pogonia, a genus now usually restricted to a few north-temperate species.


Terrestrials arising from tubers. Stems erect, unbranched, usually glaucous. Leaves sessile, graduating in size, becoming smaller towards the apex. Flowers solitary from upper leaf axils. Sepals and petals subsimilar, free, the petals subequal to the sepals or shorter and broader. Lip unlobed or three-lobed, sessile, +/- lamellate or thickened crests, with paired stipitate processes at the base. Column elongated, without wings or a foot; pollinia 2, granular.


From the Greek kleistos, meaning closed, referring to the tube formed by the lip and petals of most species.


A genus of about 55 species ranging from North America to southern South America with the majority of species in Brazil and the Guianas.

Care and Culture Card

See basic growing conditions and care information below.


Catling, P. M. and K. B. Gregg 1992. Systematics of the genus Cleistes in North America. Lindleyana 7(2):57-73.

Gregg, K. B. 1989. Reproductive biology of the orchid Cleistes divaricata (L.) Ames var. bifaria Fernald growing in a West Virginia meadow. Castanea 54:57-78.

Gregg, K. B. 1992. Defrauding the deceitful orchid: pollen collection by pollinators of Cleistes divaricata and C. bifaria. Lindleyana 6(4):214-220.

Toscano de Brito, A. L. V. and L. S. Leoni 1997. Cleistes carautae Toscano & Leoni, uma nova Orchidaceae native do Parque Nacional do Caparaó, Estado de Minas Gerais, Brasil. Pabstia 8(5):1--3.