Mexipedium xerophyticum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Cypripedioideae
Tribe: Mexipedieae
Subtribe: Mexipediinae
Genus: Mexipedium
V.A.Albert & M.W.Chase
Species: M. xerophyticum
Binomial name
Mexipedium xerophyticum
(Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hágsater) V.A.Albert & M.W.Chase

Phragmipedium xerophyticum Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hágsater

Mexipedium is a monotypic genus of the Orchid family Orchidaceae, subfamily Cypripedioideae, consisting of only one species, Mexipedium xerophyticum. It is also the single genus of tribe Mexipedieae and subtribe Mexipediinae. This species was initially described as Phragmipedium xerophyticum by Soto Arenas, Salazar & Hágsater in 1990, but transferred to its own genus by Albert & Chase in 1992, in part based on results from DNA analysis. Mexipedium xerophyticum is known from a single location in Oaxaca, Mexico. Only seven plants were observed at the time of its discovery. Mexipedium was recently rediscovered in a nearby locality (Pérez-García, 2010).

Its name is derived from the country of origin Mexico and the Latin pes (“foot”), referring to the form of the lip. The specific epithet xerophyticum means "preferring dry conditions".

A small number of plants were removed for propagation in case plant hunters eradicated the wild stock. Plants are now available as propagules.

This is a lithophytic orchid, growing on cliffs, shielded from the sun, at an elevation of 320 m (1,050 ft). But it grows as well on rocks or in the detritus in crevasses. Its growth form is unusual in that it tends to spread by runners, offset from the parent plant by several centimeters. The silvery-green leaves are small, stiff and semi-erect. The tiny white-pink flowers show a shieldlike, pinkish staminode and a slipper-shaped lip. The curved petals are scythe-shaped. Inflorescences are multifloral and branched.

Allied genera include Cypripedium, Paphiopedilum, Selenipedium and Phragmipedium.

The genus Mexipedium is listed as Phragmipedium in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and for other legal purposes.


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