Taxonomic revision and phylogenetic analysis of continental African angraecoid Orchidaceae

Durée : 2011 - 2016
Programme : Fondation Nationale pour la Science - National Science Foundation (NSF, Etats-Unis)
Portée : Internationale
Central Africa
Floristic inventory
Shadehouse network

Since Darwin's seminal book on orchid pollination, this remarkable plant family has been widely regarded as one of the most intriguing and attractive plant groups. Orchids, the second largest plant family in the world, comprises over 25,000 species that grow largely as epiphytes in the canopies of rainforest trees. Due to their inaccessible habitat, they remain poorly represented in international collections, making a comprehensive study of their classification, diversity patterns, and habitat requirements difficult. While many subgroups have been recently revised, the study of the complex African angraecoid orchids remains incomplete. So little is known about these particular species that it is difficult to plan for their conservation in rapidly degrading tropical forest habitats.
In order to study the angraecoid orchids, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists will conduct collecting expeditions, evolutionary analyses, and specimen-based research. The research will focus on four key angraecoid groups centered in Central Africa (representing approximately 40 species); using a proven method developed since 1997 that ensures the collection of high-quality specimens. Rather than attempting to work with the sterile plant specimens that are often found in the wild, the research methodology involves the cultivation of living plants in shade-houses, allowing them time to flower and to be fully studied. The innovative network of shade-houses in tropical Central Africa will offer a model for conducting botanical research on orchids that benefits a wide group of people. The research team will offer valuable training opportunities for young African botanists, thus increasing in-country capacity to study their rich plant diversity. The results of this study will also help in the conservation of the African flora by identifying priority areas and the species most in need of conservation. A website will be created that will serve scientists, conservation planners, natural resource managers, and a rapidly growing number of amateurs world-wide interested in this fascinating group of plants.


  • Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG)
  • New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgique)
  • Université de Yaoundé 1 (Cameroun)
  • Jardin botanique Meise (Belgique)
  • Université La Réunion (France)